Defense Relations Between China and Russia Are Strong. According to Data, Putin’s Conflict Has Not Altered That

Image:Wall Street Journal

Over the past year, Chinese state-owned defense companies have maintained business ties with sanctioned Russian defense firms, despite the fact that many of the world’s top economies severed ties with Moscow and the firms that are funding its ongoing attack on Ukraine.

Despite the horror Moscow has wreaked on Europe, customs records reveal important businesses within both nations’ enormous military-industrial complexes have maintained their years-long relationships.

Records show that throughout 2022, through at least mid-November, Beijing-based defense contractor Poly Technologies sent at least a dozen shipments – including helicopter parts and air-to-ground radio equipment – to a state-backed Russian firm sanctioned by the US for its connection to leader Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

According to trade data, Ulan Ude Aviation Plant, a provider of military-grade helicopters, has been a longtime supplier of parts and a number of helicopters to the Beijing-based business Poly Technology.

The majority of the helicopter components sent to Russia were marked for use in the versatile Mi-171E helicopter, which was created for cargo and search and rescue. China started importing this type of chopper from Russia more than ten years ago, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The Mi-171SH, a military transport helicopter manufactured in Russia that can be armed and has been used in Moscow’s operations in Ukraine, was included in three shipments from Poly Technologies that were marked as containing parts for its maintenance or operation.

There is no proof that any of the commodities traded are actively supporting Russia’s conflict.

Two data sets were used to create the customs reports. Import Genius, a trade data company, supplied the first. Its data was compiled using secondary sources from official Russian customs and shipment records.

The second set was supplied by the Washington-based think tank C4ADS, which compiles official customs records gathered from various third-party providers.

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