Chinese companies, including one connected to the Beijing government, reportedly shipped assault rifles, body armor, drone parts, and other military-grade equipment to Russian entities last year, as a means of helping Russia in its ongoing war with Ukraine, according to trade and customs data obtained by Politico.
The ImportGenius data, as noted in the Politico story, chronicled shipments of "dual-use" equipment that took place between June and December.
The commercial items reportedly have the capacity for being used on battlefields in Ukraine.
China North Industries Group Corporation Limited, one of China's largest state-owned defense contractors, sent the rifles in June 2022 to a Russian company called Tekhkrim, which has also previously done business with the Russian state and military, according to Politico.
From that piece, the "CQ-A rifles, modeled off of the M16 but tagged as 'civilian hunting rifles' in the data, have been reported to be in use by paramilitary police in China and by armed forces from the Philippines to South Sudan and Paraguay."
The Russian groups reportedly received roughly 1,000 assault rifles from the Chinese companies. Later in the year, the entities were also given 12 shipments of drone parts and more than 12 tons of Chinese body armor, routed via Turkey, according to the data.
The Politico report marks the first confirmation that China has sent rifles and body armor to Russian companies.
It also shows that drones and drone parts are still being sent, according to Politico, "despite promises from at least one company that said it would suspend business in Russia and Ukraine to ensure its products did not aid the war effort."
Andrzej Sadoś, Poland's ambassador to the European Union, responded to the Politico findings, saying, "Due to the potential very serious consequences, such information should be verified immediately."
In Europe and the United States, military officials reportedly are "concerned" about how the material being sent to the Russian entities could affect Ukraine's defensive efforts in the war.
According to Politico, Da-Jiang Innovations Science & Technology Co. sent drone parts such as batteries and cameras via the United Arab Emirates to a small Russian distributor in November and December.
DJI, a Chinese company, has been under U.S. Treasury sanctions since 2021, as penalty for supplying China with drones to surveil the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority in the western region of Xinjiang.
In a statement pertaining to this report, the Chinese embassy in Washington said Beijing is "committed to promoting talks for peace" in Ukraine.
"China did not create the crisis. It is not a party to the crisis and has not provided weapons to either side of the conflict," said embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu.
According to Politico, Russia has also been relying on other countries, such as China, for navigation equipment, satellite imagery, vehicle components, and other raw materials in the Ukraine war.
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