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Ukrainian military discover Chinese mortar shells in Russian positions

Ukrainian forces uncovered Chinese-made munitions, including 60mm mortar shells at Russian positions near the occupied city of Melitopol, which is raising new questions about potential Chinese military assistance to Russia.
A Chinese-made 60mm mine found on Russian position, November 2023. Credit: Radio NV host Vasyl Pekhno via Telegram

A photo of a Chinese-made 60mm mortar shell was recently published on the Telegram channel of Radio NV host Vasyl Pekhno, reportedly found by Ukrainian troops at Russian positions near Melitopol.

According to Yuriy Poyta, head of the Asia section of the New Geopolitics Research Network, the shell is an M-83A high-explosive anti-personnel fragmentation stabilized mortar shell.

The identifying markings visible on the photo include Chinese characters.

“Markings on the shell indicate a calibre of 60mm, 杀 – anti-personnel combat unit; 黑27石 – (黑 – Pyrotechnic warehouse, 27 – possibly the 27th factory (needs to be checked), 石 – 石家庄 – Shijiazhuang in eastern China, capital of Hebei province); 4-75-62 – (date of manufacture, 4th month, 1975, 1 prototype made in 1962),” Yuriy Poyta explained.

Poyta also said that such Chinese munitions have been documented in the Russian army since at least September 2022. These could come either directly from China or through third countries. The Russian military does not have indigenous 60mm mortars in service that could fire this ammunition.

The head of the Asia section of the New Geopolitics Research Network also mentioned that Russian forces employ “a very wide range” of other Chinese-made munitions.

“Maritime, land and air transport corridors give China the capability to directly supply Russia at the necessary volume and pace. Containers can conceal military goods declared as bilateral trade items, making it highly likely deliveries occurred directly from China rather than third countries,” the expert argues.

Yuriy Poyta said that such findings demand “an immediate Ukrainian and Western response to dissuade China from increasing the scope of military exports to Russia.”

“A recent Chinese shipment of over 2,000 all-terrain vehicles to Russia “slipped under the radar,” potentially bolstering the mobility of Russian fighting units on the ground,” Poyta mentioned.

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