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China sells over US$12 million worth of drones to Russia in a year

Tuesday, 21 March 2023, 13:29
China sells over US$12 million worth of drones to Russia in a year

China has sold more than US$12 million worth of drones and components to the occupiers in the year since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Source: The New York Times

Quote: "In the year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China has sold more than $12 million in drones and drone parts to the country, according to official Russian customs data from a third-party data provider."


Details: It is reported that the shipments, a mix of products from DJI, the world’s best-known drone maker, and an array of smaller companies, often came through small-time middlemen and exporters.

Complicated sales channels and vague product descriptions within export data also make it hard to definitively show whether there are US components in the Chinese products.

The official sales are likely only one part of a larger flow of technologies through unofficial channels and other nations friendly to Russia, like Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Belarus.


In particular, sales of DJI drones to Russia continue, even though the company has stated that it has suspended deliveries to both Russia and Ukraine.

DJI products made up nearly half of the Chinese drone shipments to Russia, according to the customs data.

A portion of them were sold directly by DJI, via iFlight Technology, a subsidiary of DJI.

In total, nearly 70 Chinese exporters sold 26 distinct brands of Chinese drones to Russia since the invasion. 

The second-largest brand sold was Autel, a Chinese drone maker with subsidiaries in the United States, Germany and Italy; exporters sold nearly $2 million of its drones, with the latest batch shipping in February 2023.

On its website, the company advertises sales to United States police forces.

A DJI spokesman said the company could find no record of any direct sales to Russia since 16 April 2022, and that it would investigate other firms that appeared to be selling to Russia. 

Autel said in an emailed statement that it was not aware of any sales to Russia and was conducting an internal investigation about the issue.

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