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China considering sending weapons to Russia – ISW

[editorial]In its February 24 assessment of the Russian offensive campaign in Ukraine, the Washington-based think tank Institute for the Study of War says China is considering sending weapons to Russia but hasn’t yet made a final decision.[/editorial]

US intelligence reportedly assesses that China is seriously considering sending weapons to Russia amidst continued pressure from Western sanctions regimes on Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB).

CNN reported on February 24 that sources familiar with the intelligence stated that Chinese officials have not made a final decision on the provision of lethal aid but are discussing the price and scope of the supply of attack drones and ammunition with Russian officials.

Senior US officials reportedly assess that recent intelligence suggests that China is leaning toward providing the equipment to Russia, although based on a bilateral arms sales agreement and not as security assistance.[11]

German outlet Der Spiegel reported on February 23 that Russian officials are engaged in negotiations with Chinese drone manufacturer Xi’an Bingo Intelligent Aviation Technology for the mass production and delivery of 100 ZT-180 drones to Russian forces by April.

Der Spiegel reported that the ZT-180 drone can carry a 35-50kg warhead, suggesting that these drones may be a dual-use technology that Russian forces are seeking to acquire for reconnaissance purposes and not just as loitering munitions or high-precision weapons systems. Russian and Chinese officials have reportedly developed plans for the shipment of the drones to Russia under falsified shipping documents labeling the equipment as replacement parts for civil aviation.

Russian officials are likely seeking support from Chinese defense manufacturers due to restrictions that international sanctions regimes have placed on Russia’s defense industry. The United Kingdom (UK) government and the US Department of Treasury both announced new sanctions and export ban measures on February 24 specifically targeting industries, entities, and individuals supporting Russian military capabilities.

China to cross “red line” if it provides weapons to Russia – US Ambassador to UN

The UK government stated that its new package of export bans aims to block the export of every item that Russia uses on the battlefield in Ukraine and that its new sanctions package would target senior executives of Russian state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom, executives of Russian defense firms, six entities involved in the repair of Russian military equipment, four Russian banks, and Russian elite figures.

The US Department of Treasury stated that Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on 22 individuals and 83 entities, 30 of which are reportedly third-country entities and individuals that help Russia evade existing sanctions measures.

Intensified Western sanctions regimes will likely continue to constrain Russia’s ability to acquire the technology and materiel to maintain a defense industrial base necessary for supporting its war effort in Ukraine.

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