12 million dollars in equipment: this is how China helps Russia to resupply drones for the invasion of Ukraine

China helps Russia to resupply drones
A Chinese soldier salutes in front of a drone during a parade to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China at Tiananmen Square in 1949, on Oct. 1, 2019 in Beijing, China.

China sold Russia more than $12 million worth of drones and spare parts, a sign of the growing cooperation between the Xi Jinping regime and Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine.

The shipments, which include products from DJI, the world’s best-known Chinese drone maker, and smaller companies, often arrived in Russia via small-time middlemen and exporters, the New York Times reported, which reviewed data. Russian customs officers from an external data provider.

In all, nearly 70 Chinese exporters have sold 26 different brands of Chinese drones to Russia since the invasion.

The best-selling brand was DJI, the largest manufacturer of suspended quadcopter drones. This company is already subject to export controls by the United States. However, its sales to Russia have continued, even though it has said it has suspended shipments to both Russia and Ukraine.

The Commerce Department added DJI to a blacklist in 2020 that prevents US companies from selling technology without express permission. The move has done little to affect DJI’s dominance in the industry, and the company’s products accounted for nearly half of the Chinese drone shipments to Russia, according to customs data. A portion of them was sold directly by DJI, through iFlight Technology, a DJI subsidiary.

A DJI spokesperson told the NYT that the company could not find any records of direct sales to Russia since April 16, 2022, and that it would investigate other firms that appeared to be selling to Russia.

The second best-selling brand was Autel, a Chinese drone manufacturer with subsidiaries in the United States, Germany, and Italy; exporters sold nearly $2 million of its drones, with the last batch shipped in February 2023. On its website, the company advertises sales to US law enforcement. Autel said in an emailed statement to the NYT that it was not aware of any sales to Russia and was conducting an internal investigation into the matter.

The Biden administration promised last month to crack down on companies selling critical technologies to Russia. However, complicated sales channels and vague product descriptions in export data make it difficult to demonstrate the presence of US components in Chinese products, which could constitute a violation of US export controls.

The result was a steady supply of new drones to Russia. Resupplying drone stocks has become a key issue as has the acquisition of artillery shells and missiles.

Some experts say the flow of Chinese drones should be viewed in the same way as the flow of deadlier weapons. Even the meager $12 million in shipments “will move the needle of what’s happening on the front lines,” Cole Rosentreter, chief executive of Canadian drone maker Pegasus, which has advised the Ukrainians on using drones, told the New York Times. drones during the war.

Furthermore, according to the American newspaper, the official sales are likely just one part of a larger flow of technologies through unofficial channels and other Russian-friendly nations such as KazakhstanPakistan and Belarus.

The Chinese supply of drones is yet another sign of the Xi Jinping regime’s support for Russia’s war effort. The aid is primarily financial, as China remained one of the largest buyers of Russian oil, helping to finance the invasion. In addition, both sides have also conducted joint military exercises, and US officials have warned that China is still considering selling lethal weapons for use in Ukraine.

This week, Chinese President Xi Jinping once again showed his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting to discuss a peace plan in Ukraine. However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that the visit is a “diplomatic cover for Russia to continue committing” war crimes.