China Reportedly Supporting Russian Invasion With Advanced Drone Tech
China’s support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has taken a new turn, as reports emerge of Chinese drones playing a crucial role in the conflict. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that Chinese-made drones from DJI are being used by Russia in the war and are being sent directly from China or indirectly through the United Arab Emirates.
The report also said that the U.S. is concerned about China’s involvement and the potential sharing of combat data with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). DJI has denied supporting the use of its products in warfare. Still, the report stated that China’s civil-military fusion enables the PLA to learn from the data collected by the drones.
According to additional reporting, Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries are secretly developing “swarm drones” in an arms deal with Chinese spies, which would be used to devastate multiple targets of civilians or troops. The drone swarm would be deployed in large numbers, making it harder to defend against, and would be able to feed back real-time surveillance imagery to a base or attack with bombs.
Reports allege that more than 2,500 Chinese-made DJI Mavic2 drones were shipped from Beijing to Moscow in a murky deal between Wagner officers, Moscow-based agents, and Beijing’s spy networks. The reports contradict China’s claims that it is not involved in the Ukraine war.
The use of drones in the Ukraine conflict is not new. They have been used extensively to identify targets and are considered a vital weapon in Russia’s war against Ukraine. In August 2022, Yuri Baluyevsky, former chief of the general staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation said the Chinese drone technology is “a true symbol of modern warfare.”
The deployment of drone swarms, however, marks a new escalation in the conflict, with the potential to cause maximum destruction or create a mass aerial spy ring that can send back vast amounts of target data to artillery or air-attack controllers at one time.
The latest reports also revealed that Wagner Group has an I.T. research and development office in Putin’s St. Petersburg hometown to develop China-style “bot farms” and the new drone technology.
The conflict in Ukraine is becoming increasingly shadowy, with the use of drones and now drone swarms highlighting the changing nature of warfare. The involvement of China in the conflict, despite its claims to the contrary, is also a worrying development for the U.S. and NATO allies. As the conflict continues, the use of drones and drone swarms will likely become more prevalent, with potentially devastating consequences for the civilian population.