Chinese companies have sent Russian entities 1,000 assault rifles and other equipment that could be used for military purposes, including drone parts and body armour, Politico cites data provided by Import Genius, a customs data aggregator.
The shipments took place between June and December 2022, according to trade and customs data obtained by Politico. China North Industries Group Corporation Limited, one of the country’s largest state-owned defence contractors, sent the rifles in June 2022 to a Russian company called Tekhkrim that also does business with the Russian state and military.
Weapons modelled off of the M16 but tagged as “civilian hunting rifles” in the data
have been reported to be in use by paramilitary police in China and by armed forces from the Philippines to South Sudan and Paraguay.
Russian entities also received 12 shipments of drone parts by Chinese companies and over 12 tons of Chinese body armour, routed via Turkey, in late 2022, according to the data.
Da-Jiang Innovations Science & Technology Co., also known as DJI, sent drone parts — like batteries and cameras — via the United Arab Emirates to Russia in November and December 2022.
It is currently unclear if Russia is using any of the rifles included in the shipment data on the battlefield, But the DJI drones have been spotted on the battlefield for months.
Russia managed to import body armour worth around $10 million in December last year, according to the customs data from Import Genius. Those bulletproof vests were manufactured by Turkish company Ariteks and most were imported straight from Turkey, although some of the shipments arrived to Russia via the United Arab Emirates. Russia also imported some body armour from Chinese company Xinxing Guangzhou Import & Export Co.
Trade data also shows that Russian state defence company Rosoboronexport has imported microchips, thermal vision devices and spare parts like a gas turbine engine from a variety of countries ranging from China to Serbia and Myanmar since 2022.
Dual-use items could also be a way for China to quietly increase its assistance to Moscow, Politico notes.
CNN reported yesterday that Ukraine’s military had downed a Chinese UAV Mugin-5 in the Donetsk region. Mugin Limited confirmed to CNN that it was their airframe, calling the incident “deeply unfortunate.” “We do not condone the usage. We are trying our best to stop it,” a spokesperson for Mugin Limited told CNN.
CNN and The Wall Street Journal sources familiar with the US intelligence data previously reported that China was considering supplying drones and ammunition to Russia for use in the Ukraine War.
Russia was negotiating a serial drone production deal with the Chinese manufacturer of drones Xi’an Bingo Intelligent Aviation Technology in late February this year, Der Spiegel reported. It was reported that the company had agreed to test and provide Russia’s Defence Ministry with 100 ZT-180 drones by April.