Since the beginning of the full-scale war in Ukraine, China has sold drones and spare parts worth more than 12 million dollars to Russia, which indicates "quiet cooperation" between the states.
This is reported by The New York Times.
The publication specified that, in total, almost 70 exporters from China sold
26 different brands of drones
to Russia after the start of the full-scale Russian invasion.
It is about supplying the products of the world's most famous drone manufacturer,
DJI, and a number of smaller companies
Often these goods arrived in the Russian Federation through small intermediaries and exporters.
"Complex distribution channels and 'fuzzy' product descriptions in export data also make it difficult to definitively determine whether Chinese products contain US components, which could be a violation of US export controls," the article said.
The authors of the material assume that official sales of drones to the Russian Federation may be only part of a larger flow of technology through unofficial channels and other Moscow-friendly countries.
We are talking about
Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Belarus.
The publication recalled that the US Department of Commerce blacklisted DJI in 2020.
That is, American companies were prohibited from selling technologies without direct permission.
However, this has had little effect on DJI's dominance of the industry.
Thus, according to customs data, the company's products accounted for almost half of the supply of Chinese drones to the Russian Federation.
Yes, some of the drones were sold directly by DJI through its subsidiary iFlight Technolog.
The second largest selling brand was
Chinese drone manufacturer Autel
, which has subsidiaries in the US, Germany and Italy.
So, exporters sold drones for almost 2 million dollars, together with the last batch shipped in February 2023.
It is noted that on its website, Autel advertises the sale of products for the US police.
As a DJI representative told reporters, the company cannot find any data on any direct sales to the Russian Federation from April 16, 2022.
The company also assured that
it has stopped all supplies and operations in Russia and Ukraine since the beginning of the war
DJI added that it has clear protocols to ensure that the company does not violate US sanctions.
At the same time, Autel said it was not aware of any sales to Russia and was conducting an internal investigation.
Industry experts said the direct sales of drones by Chinese exporters are just part of a
broader Russian effort to procure the drones in nearby markets
, where they can be bought off the shelves of retail stores.
Experts also noted that resupplying even the simplest UAVs is important, as is, for example, the acquisition of artillery shells and bullets.
It will be recalled that at the end of February, the director of the US CIA, Bill Burns, said that China could transfer lethal weapons to Russia for the war against Ukraine.
However, as of March 20, the GUR of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine has not recorded a single fact of China's supply of weapons to the Russian Federation, despite statements in the Western press.
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