Russia has been importing drones for months from Chinese companies such as the US-sanctioned DJI for use in its war against Ukraine, despite denials from Beijing that such equipment is being deployed in the conflict, according to Nikkei Asia, which said it conducted an investigation that found Russian firms imported over three dozen unmanned aerial vehicles worth around $103,000 between December 2022 and April 2023, which were described on customs records as being “for use in the special military operation” – the term that Moscow has used to describe its invasion.
China’s Ministry of Commerce claimed in April it would “prevent all types of drones from being used on battlefields in conflict areas” and jointly promote international peace, but it was unclear if the Chinese firms or government were aware of Russia’s customs records about the drones.
Nikkei said it obtained the records from multiple sources and also found Russian firms paid Chinese companies over $1.2 million for devices that detect and jam drones, all with forms designating them for use in the war, possibly “to speed them through the customs process”. Meanwhile, China reported exporting at least 30,000 drones to Russia, worth over $32 million, from March 2022 to May 2023, according to its official customs data, the report said.
Read the full report: Nikkei Asia.