Chinese Companies Sending Military Use Equipment to Russia

Chinese Companies Sending Military Use Equipment to Russia
A Russian T-90 main battle tank. (Vitaliy Ragulin)

The Lede: Chinese companies have been found delivering equipment to Russia that could be used for military purposes according to trade and customs data provided by customs data aggregator ImportGenius.

What We Know:

  • Deliveries from Chinese companies to Russia between June and December 2022 include 1,000 assault rifles, drone parts, and body armor as well as ‘dual-use’ items that have civilian applications as well as military purposes.
  • The rifles were sent in June 2022 by China North Industries Group Corporation Limited, one of China’s largest state-owned defense contracting companies. They were received by Tekhkrim, a Russian company that does business with the Russian government and its military.
  • The data also indicates that Chinese companies sent 12 shipments of drone parts and 12 tons of Chinese body armor by way of Turkey in late 2022. Drone parts such as batteries and cameras were delivered to a small Russian distributor by way of the United Arab Emirates by Da-Jiang Innovations Science & Technology Company. The DJI drones have been openly seen in combat operations.

The Background: This information would be the first confirmation that China is sending rifles and body armor to Russia. The Chinese government and Chinese firms have publicly held neutral positions on the Russian war in Ukraine and have not made any explicit moves to support either side. Western officials in the U.S. and Europe have been warning China against any support for Russia’s military campaign and expressing their concern that China is indeed considering providing more significant military aid. Besides equipment specifically for combat purposes, ‘dual-use’ equipment could be sent under the premise of civilian use, but end up on the battlefield. These include navigation equipment, satellite imagery, vehicle components, and computer chips. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Western allies have openly delivered military aid to Ukraine.

Likely Outcomes:

  • China has appeared hesitant to openly send aid to either Russia or Ukraine, but if this recent revelation goes without pushback, they may be emboldened to deliver more and in a more open manner. If the international community does put pressure on China in response to this, then Chinese firms may hold back on sending equipment or do so in more roundabout ways.
  • This comes as China has expressed its desire to mediate between Russia and Ukraine to bring an end to the war. The delivery of equipment to Russia may be a strategy to help shape a more favorable position for Russia at the negotiating table.
  • These deliveries reveal a path for Chinese companies to go skirt the Western-dominated trade norms regarding Russia in response to the Ukraine invasion. If China can continue to foster its cooperation with its Middle Eastern counterparts to the benefit of Russia in this way, then this is another example of the growing non-western sphere of the bifurcated global market.


“We’ve seen already over these past months the provision of nonlethal assistance that does go directly to aiding and abetting Russia’s war effort. And some further information that we are sharing today, and that I think will be out there soon, that indicates that they are strongly considering providing lethal assistance to Russia.” - Anthony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State

“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.” - Liu Pengyu, Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the United States

“We all agree that there must be no weapons deliveries, and the Chinese government has stated that it wouldn’t deliver any. That is what we are demanding and we are watching it.” - Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of Germany

Good Reads:

Chinese companies are shipping rifles, body armor to Russia (POLITICO)

Blinken: 'Deep concern' that China could provide lethal support for Russia's war in Ukraine (Yahoo)

Explainer: Can China broker peace between Russia and Ukraine? (Reuters)

Scholz warns of ‘consequences’ if China sends arms to Russia (AP)