The big question in the growing proxy war between Russia and NATO is the role of China.
If you look who has benefitted most from this war, it’s certainly not the U.S. or its NATO allies, many of which are now left without a cheap and secure source of natural gas to heat their homes. The U.S. almost certainly destroyed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that delivered that gas to Europeans from Russia, and when that dirty little secret gets out, more Europeans will become disillusioned with their “ally” in the United States.
Former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair, in an interview February 21 with the BBC, said he had “faith in China” to dissuade Russia from escalating the war to a nuclear level. We reported on that shocking statement yesterday. It’s shocking because Russia and China have an existing military cooperation pact, they have held joint exercises, and they have shared security interests in knocking the U.S. down off its perch as the global policeman.
The US and Germany have warned China not to deliver weapons to Russia.
But China has never made any such assurances and now we have the first concrete indication that the Dragon of the East is actually preparing to lay its military prowess on the line for Russia.
According to information obtained by the German news outlet DER SPIEGEL, Beijing and Moscow are said to be negotiating the purchase of 100 combat drones, which could be delivered as soon as April to the war front in Ukraine.
The Limited Times reports that, at the Munich Security Conference last weekend, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken dispensed with the usual diplomatic niceties when he reported on his meeting with top Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, delivering a rebuke instead.
“We are very concerned that China is considering providing lethal support to Russia in its aggression against Ukraine,” Blinken told US broadcaster NBC.
“And I made clear that that would have serious consequences in our relationship as well.”
China reacted quickly, with a foreign ministry spokesperson accusing Blinken of spreading disinformation.
But information obtained by DER SPIEGEL indicates that the planned cooperation between Beijing and Moscow goes even further than Blinken makes it sound.
According to that information, 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.
The revelations create a new urgency in the debate over possible Chinese military support 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 Shaheed 136 kamikaze drone.
The Russian army has deployed hundreds of them in its attacks on Ukraine, where they used the Iranian drones to target residential buildings, power plants and district heating facilities, often resulting in civilian casualties.
Plans for Falsified Shipping Papers
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.
According to information obtained by DER SPIEGEL, 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.
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