Is China Making Suicide Drones for Russia?

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Russian and Chinese companies might be making Iranian replica drones for use in Ukraine, which If true would indicate that China is moving closer to providing actual lethal aid to Russia, further raising global tensions.

Unnamed European officials who claim to be “familiar with the matter” report that the unnamed Chinese and Russian companies have been in talks since 2023, trying to replicate Iran’s Shahed drone family, and have possibly begun the agreement’s development and testing phase.

According to Interesting Engineering, though President Xi Jinping has tried to portray China as neutral in the conflict in Ukraine, Western officials claim it has provided support for Russian forces. Nevertheless, the spokesperson for China’s embassy in the US Liu Pengyu stated that China does not supply weapons to the parties involved in the Ukraine conflict and strictly controls exports of dual-use items: “On the Ukraine crisis, it is quite clear to the international community who is calling for dialogue and striving for peace, and who is fueling the fight and inciting confrontation… We urge the relevant countries to immediately stop fueling the fight and inciting confrontation.”

Since initiating the war in 2022, Russia has deployed thousands of Shahed drones against Ukraine, and has even established a factory to mass-produce the Iranian-developed technology (relatively inexpensive to manufacture but expensive to defend against).

However, experts explain that Russia still depends on countries like North Korea and Iran for supplies, and on China for critical parts and components. Experts worry that China could mass-produce a drone similar to the Shahed, as it would surely do it much faster than Iran or Russia can.

While the type of drones being developed was not identified yet, Chinese defense websites reported the country is developing a kamikaze attack drone called the Sunflower 200, which is described as similar in appearance to the Iranian Shahed 136 drone.