Lethal equipment flown from China to Russia for use in Ukraine, says Shapps

The Defence Secretary said UK and US intelligence undermines Beijing’s previous attempts to present itself as a moderating influence on Moscow.

Nina Lloyd
Wednesday 29 May 2024 18:11 BST
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said lethal aid is flying from China to Russia (PA)
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said lethal aid is flying from China to Russia (PA) (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

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China is providing Russia with lethal aid for use in its war against Ukraine, the UK Defence Secretary has said.

Grant Shapps suggested that British and US intelligence contradicts Beijing’s previous attempts to present itself as a moderating influence on Moscow.

Mr Shapps used a speech at the London Defence Conference on Wednesday to reveal China’s collaboration as he argued Nato needs to “wake up” and bolster defence spending alliance-wide.

He said: “Today I can reveal that we have evidence that Russia and China are collaborating on combat equipment for use in Ukraine.”

Mr Shapps added: “US and British defence intelligence can reveal that lethal aid is now flying from China to Russia and into Ukraine.

“That recent visit we saw, the I think 64% increase in trade that we’ve seen between the two countries, reveals that there is actually a much deeper relationship there.

“And this is new intelligence which leads me to be able to declassify and reveal this fact today. I think it’s quite significant.”

The Defence Secretary said democratic states must make a “full-throated case” for freedoms that are dependent on the international order, meaning “we need more allies and partners” worldwide.

“It’s time for the world to wake up. And that means translating this moment to concrete plans and capabilities. And that starts with laying the foundations for an alliance-wide increase in spending on our collective deterrent,” he said.

It comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin put on a strong show of unity during a meeting in Beijing earlier this month which was closely watched by Western capitals.

The Chinese president said there should be a “political solution” to the conflict in Ukraine but did not give any details, despite calls including from Downing Street for him to urge Russia to “cease its illegal war”.

Beijing is a key supporter of Mr Putin, who is widely regarded as a pariah after he ordered the invasion in 2022.

It continues to supply Moscow with key components that the Kremlin needs for its war machine, and its purchase of Russian oil and gas has helped boost the Russian economy.

Mr Shapps’ intervention comes after Julianne Smith, the US ambassador to Nato, said China is continuing to sell supplies such as drone technology and gunpowder ingredients to Russia.

It is the latest show of heightened tensions between Beijing and the US and UK, which earlier this month accused Beijing of a series of cyber attacks targeting millions of people in Western countries.

In an interview with digital newspaper Politico, Ms Smith said: “The PRC (People’s Republic of China) cannot claim to be entirely neutral in this case, (and) they are in fact picking a side.

“If they were not providing some of these components, or this materiel support, Russia would be in a very different situation and would have trouble pursuing some of these acts of aggression.”

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