Russia reportedly negotiating with China to supply strike drones — media reports

24 February, 12:30 PM
Ukrainian military uses searchlights to detect Iranian drones over Kyiv, January 1, 2023 (Photo:REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)

Ukrainian military uses searchlights to detect Iranian drones over Kyiv, January 1, 2023 (Photo:REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)

The Russian military is engaged in negotiations with Chinese drone manufacturer Xi’an Bingo Intelligent Aviation Technology over the purchase of 100 strike drones for delivery as early as April, German news weekly Der Spiegel reported on Feb. 23.

Der Spiegel, referring to it sources, said Bingo has reportedly agreed to manufacture and test 100 ZT-180 prototype drones before delivering them to the Russian Defense Ministry by April 2023.

Military experts believe the ZT-180 is capable of carrying a 35- to 50-kilogram warhead. Sources believe that the design of the unmanned aerial vehicle could be similar to that of Iran’s Shahed 136 kamikaze drone.

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“In a further step, Bingo reportedly plans to deliver components and know-how to Russia so that the country can produce around 100 drones a month on its own,” the report says.

China apparently already had plans last year to provide the Russian military with much more substantial support than previously known. According to information obtained by Der Spiegel, companies under the control of China’s People’s Liberation Army had planned to deliver replacement parts for Russia’s SU-27 fighter jets and other models.

Der Spiegel has learned that plans had apparently already been made to falsify shipping documents to make the parts for military aircraft appear to be replacement parts for civilian aviation.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has denied making weapons deliveries to Russia.

“China has always taken a prudent and responsible approach to military exports and does not provide any arms sales to conflict areas or belligerents,” U.S. television channel CNN quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin as saying on Feb. 24.

The United States and NATO have recently stated they are concerned about Beijing’s possible plans to supply weapons to Russia. China denies this information.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Kyiv has not yet seen such signs.

China released a 12-point position paper on Feb. 24, in which it calls for a political settlement to the conflict and called for a resumption of peace talks, an end to unilateral sanctions and stressed its opposition to the use of nuclear weapons.

At the same time, nowhere in the paper does China condemn Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and Russian war crimes.

Over the past year, China has refrained from criticizing the full-scale war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine and claimed that it took an “objective and fair position.”

In early January, the Financial Times business newspaper quoted five senior officials as saying that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin had not warned China of his plans for the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. One of the officials said that the closest Putin had come to informing Chinese leader Xi Jinping about his plans was to say that Russia “doesn’t rule out taking any possible measures if there is an attack on Russian territory.”

There was no attack on Russian territory before Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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