Chinese company sells intelligence satellites to Wagner PMC
The Chinese Beijing Yunze Technology Co Ltd company has sold two high-resolution surveillance satellites to the Wagner Group for more than USD 30 million
This is reported by France24.
In 2022, the Russian Wagner Group signed a contract with a Chinese firm to purchase two satellites and use their images for intelligence activities. It is noted that this organization sought to push Russia to invade Ukraine.
In particular, satellite imagery was also used to support Wagner's operations in Africa and even its failed coup in June, which led to the group's de facto collapse, after which Prigozhin and other key figures died in a plane crash in August.
According to the contract, Beijing Yunze Technology Co Ltd sold two high-resolution surveillance satellites owned by the Chinese space giant Chang Guang Satellite Technology (CGST) to Nika-Fruit, which was part of Prigozhin's commercial empire at the time.
The cost of the satellites was over USD 30 million.
According to the source, the Wagner PMC even ordered images of Russian territory in late May 2023, which was seized by the Wagner forces in late June during a short-lived rebellion.
The mutiny was stopped within 24 hours and marked the final break between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prigozhin. However, the contract does not mention any ordering images of Russian territory.
Gregory Falco, an aerospace researcher at Cornell University in the United States, said the Wagner Group's use of Chinese technology shows Russia's limitations in this sector, despite its historical reputation as a great space power dating back to the USSR.
When asked to comment on the contract, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied: "I am not aware of the situation you are describing," adding that "China has always taken a balanced and responsible approach to relevant export issues and has acted in strict accordance with Chinese policies, laws and its international obligations."
According to the source, it was possible to identify the person who signed the contract on the Russian side - Ivan Mechetin, a 40-year-old man who is the CEO of Nika-Fruit, a subsidiary of the Concord group, which was then headed by Prigozhin.
- On August 23, an Embraer business jet belonging to Yevgeny Prigozhin crashed in the Tver region of Russia, killing 10 people. The Wagner PMC financier was among the passengers.
- The Institute for the Study of War has claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin probably ordered Prigozhin's murder in order to reassert his dominance and avenge his humiliation.
- According to one version of the Russian media, an explosive device was planted in the landing gear of the plane carrying Wagner PMC leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, which detonated at the right time, tearing off the wing and stabilizer.