May 30, 2024

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The United States says China is supplying Russia with missile engines and drones

The United States says China is supplying Russia with missile engines and drones

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The United States has accused China of supplying Russia with cruise missiles, drone engines and ballistic missile robotic tools, as it urges Europe to step up diplomatic and economic pressure on Beijing to halt the sales.

In revealing previously classified intelligence, senior US officials said that Chinese and Russian groups are jointly working on producing drones inside Russia. They added that China also supplied Russia with 90% of the chips it imported last year, which were used in manufacturing tanks, missiles and aircraft.

China is also helping Russia improve its satellite and other space capabilities to help continue its war in Ukraine, the officials added, and Beijing is also providing satellite imagery.

Dennis Wilder, a former senior China military analyst at the CIA, said the revelation “far exceeds previous estimates and shows a coordinated program by China's leaders” to help Moscow continue the war in Ukraine.

“Russia lost access to critical machine tools from Europe at the beginning of the conflict, and China moved to fill the gap,” said Wilder, who now works at Georgetown University.

The chips are essential for targeting systems and radars, and China is a world leader in manufacturing drones for military and civilian purposes, Wilder said.

People familiar with the situation said the United States believes European pressure will be crucial to convincing Beijing to stop exporting the equipment.

Friday's US revelations come after officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in recent weeks raised concerns with European capitals about China providing military technology to Russia, and urged allies to help.

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In addition to rhetorical pressure, the United States wants Europe to increase its use of economic tools. Europe has imposed sanctions on three Chinese groups since the invasion, compared to more than 100 groups imposed by Washington, one of the people said.

The source said that Beijing has become increasingly confident that its support for Moscow will not jeopardize economic relations with Europe, and that it will be concerned about any increasing pressure given its economic problems. She said that the sanctions imposed by European countries could have a very significant impact on changing calculations in China.

The United States is also making clear to banks — in China and abroad — about the implications of facilitating trade payments from Russia to Chinese groups that are helping Moscow reshape its military, that person said.

The pressure campaign on European countries to increase pressure on China comes just two weeks after US President Joe Biden raised the issue in a phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. A second person said that Washington had seen no sign of Beijing's withdrawal since the call between the two leaders.

Senior US officials said that China has strengthened its support for Russia over two years, and Beijing believes it can avoid crossing any red lines by providing equipment that does not technically equate to “lethal” assistance.

But Chinese support is helping Russia rebuild its defense industrial base and reduce the impact of Western sanctions and export controls.

A senior US official said: “These materials fill critical gaps in the Russian defense production cycle.” “As a result, Russia is undertaking its most ambitious defense expansion since the Soviet era and on a faster timeline than we thought possible early in this conflict.”

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Several Chinese groups — including Wuhan Global Sensor Technology, Wuhan Tongsheng Technology and Hikvision — provide optical components for use in Russian weapons systems, including tanks and armored vehicles, the officials said. Russia has also acquired military optics for the weapons from iRay Technology and the North China Electro-Optics Research Institute, they said.

Washington also accused Dalian Machine Tool Group, one of the largest such companies in China, of providing tools to Russia.

The officials added that Chinese entities are “likely to supply” Russia with nitrocellulose, which is used to make weapons propellants. They said this enabled Moscow to “rapidly” expand its capacity to produce important munitions, including artillery shells.

Washington hopes that European countries will be more forceful with China in their upcoming trips to Beijing.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will have the opportunity to convey the message to Xi when he meets with him on Tuesday during his second official trip to China. Before the trip, a senior German official said Berlin was “concerned” that Beijing was “providing goods to Russia that support its war effort — dual-use technologies that Russia can use for military purposes.”

“It is something we are very concerned about,” he added. “We will clarify this during the talks.”

The Chinese embassy in the United States said that China “has not provided weapons to any party” in the Ukrainian conflict.

“The normal trade between China and Russia should not be interfered with or restricted. We urge the US side to refrain from belittling the normal relationship between China and Russia and making it a scapegoat,” said Liu Bingyu, an embassy spokesman.

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