China and Russia are negotiating the sale of loitering munitions, also known as kamikaze drones, a report suggests.
According to the report, Chinese drone manufacturer Xi’an Bingo Intelligent Aviation Technology has agreed to produce and sell to Russia 100 ZT-180 drones that mimic the design of Iranian Shahed 136 drones, previously provided by Iran and used by Russia to strike targets in Ukraine.
Chinese officials weigh in impending sanctions as opposed to supporting its key ally Russia. China proposed a peace plan on February 23, however, Chinese military planners disappointed to see Russia fails in Ukraine invasion as the most Chinese military hardware are either Soviet or Russian origin. Taiwan would be confident enough to deter China if Russia fails to control parts of Ukrainian territory using the same type of military hardware China possess.
The report was first published by German newspaper Der Spiegel, which claims to have obtained confidential information pertaining to the company’s plans.
Der Spiegel claims that the drones are due to be delivered by April 2023, while their shipping documents are expected to be falsified in order to conceal the transfer.
When asked about the report, Xi’an Bingo denied having any dealings with Russia and declined to comment further, according to Vice News.
China claims to have remained neutral in relation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, supporting neither side.
On February 24, 2023, the Chinese government published its long-talked about ceasefire plan, which it claims would lead to the resolution of the conflict.
The plan calls for a stop to the hostilities and for international laws and norms to be observed, ostensibly cementing China’s own neutrality.
However, numerous previous reports have alleged that Chinese companies had agreed to provide or provided military and dual-use aid to Russia.
In June 2022, Chinese ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui said that China is ready to start delivering aircraft parts to Russia, despite international sanctions.
In early February 2023, The Wall Street Journal claimed to have obtained evidence that various Chinese companies had shipped fighter jet and military helicopter parts to Russia, in addition to various sanctioned dual-use technologies such as microchips and other electronics.
Chinese companies “are ready” to deliver aircraft parts, drones, and ammo to Russian Federation, said Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
“We are ready to deliver parts to RF [Russian Federation], we are organizing this cooperation. Now they [companies] are working [on this], they have specific channels, there are no restrictions from the Chinese side,” Tass cited Hanhui as saying.
However, TASS has not provided information about where or to whom Hanhui was said to have made the announcement. On June 16, Hanhui participated in a panel called The Russia-China Business Dialogue within the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. While Chinese media reports that Hanhui confirmed further trade cooperation between the two countries, he has not been reported as speaking specifically about aviation.
Russian airlines have been struggling to procure aircraft and their parts due to various sanctions that followed the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
In March 2022 reports surfaced that China was refusing to circumvent the sanctions and supply the parts to Russia, although these reports were not independently confirmed.
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