Espreso. Global

China develops copy of Iran's Shahed-136 UAV to supply to Russia

3 July, 2024 Wednesday
09:55

Last year, Chinese and Russian companies held talks on cooperation to copy Iran's Shahed-136 drone and began developing and testing this year's version in preparation for shipment to Russia

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Bloomberg reports this, citing anonymous comments from officials.

According to the sources, Chinese drones will not be used in Ukraine yet.

At the same time, US officials said that China is holding back on direct arms and artillery shipments, signaling an unprecedented escalation that will almost certainly lead to more decisive action, such as sanctions.

Some countries believe that providing Russia with unmanned aerial vehicles for attack purposes would cross the line into lethal assistance, two officials said. One source said the US assesses that China is weighing whether to send fully built drones, but in the meantime is sending "kits that can be converted into attack drones." The US has not yet concluded that China is sending lethal aid to Russia, he said, acknowledging that other countries may have a different interpretation.

China does not supply weapons to the parties to the Ukrainian conflict and strictly controls the export of dual-use goods, said Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the United States.

"With regard to the crisis in Ukraine, it is quite clear to the international community who is calling for dialogue and seeking peace and who is inciting fighting and fomenting confrontation. We call on the countries concerned to immediately stop fomenting strife and inciting confrontation," Liu said.

The Russian Defense and Foreign Ministries did not respond to requests for comment.

One concern is that China could produce a drone similar to the Shahed much faster than Iran or Russia, officials said. Officials have not identified the drone under development, but Chinese defense websites and several media outlets have reported that the country is developing a kamikaze strike drone called the Sunflower 200, which looks similar to Iran's Shahed-136 drone.

In April, Bloomberg News reported that China was providing Russia with satellite imagery for military purposes, microelectronics and machine tools for tanks, as well as a number of technologies used in weapons or needed to produce them.

"China is making every effort, every opportunity, to claim that somehow it is a neutral player in this war in Ukraine, but in fact China is providing a long list of dual-use components, such as machine tools and microelectronics, that allow Russia to continue this aggressive war in Ukraine," US Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith told Bloomberg on Tuesday.

She emphasized that NATO is convinced that "China is no longer a neutral player and has warned China of the risk of being left behind by Russia in this unprovoked war of aggression.”

  • On Monday, June 24, Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Beijing and said that China would seek a solution to the “Ukrainian crisis in its own way.”
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