Russia ramps up weapon production faster than ever with Chinese support — Blinken

Armata T-14 tank
Armata T-14 tank

Russia has produced munitions, missiles, tanks, and armored vehicles, at a faster pace over the last year than at any time in its modern history, including during the Cold War, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a conversation with World Economic Forum President Borge Brende.

"How has it been able to do that?" Blinken asked. "Because it’s getting massive inputs of machine tools, microelectronics, optics, mostly coming from China. Seventy percent of the machine tools, 90 percent of the microelectronics are coming from China. Now, these are dual-use items, but we know very clearly where so many of them are going."

Read also: Russia will supply gas to China at a discount — report

Blinken highlighted the dual challenge posed by China's support: it not only allows Russia to sustain its military actions against Ukraine but also helps rebuild its defense industrial base. "At the very time that Russia is seeking better relations with countries in Europe, it’s also fueling the greatest challenge to European security since the end of the Cold War," he added.

"As I shared with my Chinese colleagues, you can’t have it both ways."

Read also: China a key supplier to Russia’s military complex — Blinken

The U.S. has been actively engaging with China to discourage support for Russia's military efforts since the conflict with Ukraine began. Unlike Iran and North Korea, which directly supply weapons to Russia, China's contributions are more subtle but equally critical, offering "invaluable support" to the Russian defense industry and helping it dodge sanctions through various export controls and measures.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius also noted Russia's increased production, suggesting that it exceeds the needs for its conflict with Ukraine and is likely aimed at restocking military depots.

In February 2023, China proposed a “peace plan” to stop the war in Ukraine, which called for direct negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv, without any notion of Russia withdrawing its troops from occupied Ukrainian territory.

Read also: China consistently supports Russia’s military industry — report

In March 2024, Chinese diplomats reiterated Beijing’s position, saying that the conflict would have to be resolved through negotiations that need to “take Russian interests into account.”

Blinken arrived in Shanghai on a three-day visit to China from April 24 to 26 to pressure China to stop its companies from contributing to the development of Russia's defense industriy.

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