Russia appears to be in talks with Xi’an Bingo Intelligent Aviation Technology, a Chinese drone manufacturer, about the purchase of attack drones.
Source: der Spiegel, citing several sources
Details: Der Spiegel reported that Beijing and Moscow are said to be negotiating the purchase of 100 strike drones, which could be delivered as soon as April.
According to the information obtained by der Spiegel, the Russian military is engaged in negotiations with Chinese drone manufacturer Xi'an Bingo Intelligent Aviation Technology over the mass production of kamikaze drones for Russia.
Bingo has reportedly agreed to manufacture and test 100 ZT-180 prototype drones before delivering them to the Russian Defense Ministry by April 2023. Military experts believe the ZT-180 is capable of carrying a 35 to 50 kilogram warhead.
Sources believe that the design of the unmanned aerial vehicle could be similar to that of Iran's Shahed-136 kamikaze drone.
In a further step, Bingo reportedly plans to deliver components and know-how to Russia so that the country can produce around 100 drones a month on its own.
"China apparently already had plans last year to provide the Russian military with much more substantial support than previously known," der Spiegel wrote.
According to information obtained by the news outlet, companies under the control of China's People's Liberation Army had planned to deliver replacement parts for Russia's SU-27 fighter jets and other models.
Der Spiegel has learned in its reporting that plans had apparently already been made to falsify shipping documents to make the parts for military aircraft appear to be replacement parts for civilian aviation.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry denied its intention to provide "lethal support" to Russia for the war against Ukraine.
- China said it maintained a neutral position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but continued to refuse to condemn Russia’s actions and to repeat the Kremlin’s accusations that NATO was to blame for provoking the war.
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday, 19 February that he was alarmed by the possibility that Beijing might strengthen its partnership with Moscow by supplying "lethal support" to the Russian military. Some sources said that Blinken raised this issue during his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Saturday.
- Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the UN, said that China would cross a "red line" if the country decided to provide lethal military aid to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
- In response, China's Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the United States "is not qualified to lecture" on the supplying of arms amid concerns from US officials that Beijing is considering providing "lethal support" to Russia's military.