China can provide hundreds of tanks to Russia bypassing the US
MOSCOW, RUSSIA — The war in Ukraine has been going on for one year. Kyiv is grateful to the West for supplying weapons worth tens of billions of dollars. It seems that the supply will not stop in 2023. On the contrary, they may increase compared to the previous year. In reality, Ukraine held off the Russian invasion thanks to Western supplies. Without them, the war would not have been an everyday topic for a long time.
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But it’s not just weapons. Complex logistics networks are the heart of Ukrainian-Western arms supplies. It has already become clear that British commandos are in Ukraine and have coordinated some key operations. It can be said that Ukraine uses the entire NATO satellite network in the region. CIA agents put their “stealth network” at the service of Kyiv. The New York Times reported on this, writing about the “invisible network of commandos and spies” involved in logistics, intelligence, and training.
Russia, on the other hand, was forgotten. Relying solely on its powerful military-industrial complex, Moscow received little help. North Korea gave missiles to Russia, and Iran on the other hand provided kamikaze drones and ballistic missiles. But where is China in the whole scheme?
The US warned China
Washington’s biggest fear is Beijing’s possible support for Moscow. Can you imagine China deciding to provide it? Of course, at the moment, official Beijing does not supply lethal weapons to Russia. Some deliveries caused quite a stir last year. For example, the Russian DJI drones were converted by the Russians into deadly kamikazes. But these are civilian drones, the sale of which is almost impossible to limit.
Washington was quick to draw a “red line” against China. Just a few days ago, US Secretary of State Mr. Anthony Blinken and UN Ambassador Mrs. Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned China that supplying arms to Russia would be a “red line.”
The warnings come at a time when there are apparently intelligence signals that Beijing is preparing to give weapons to Russia. Mr. Blinken expressed similar concerns. And they remain, even though he held a conversation with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
Russian tanks for Russia from China
China can completely bypass Washington’s red line and, without providing weapons to Russia, provide weapons to Russia. Confused, isn’t it, but this is international politics at its best. Here’s how it can be done:
Russia has a huge military-industrial complex. However, it was not loaded at full power before the war. Russia was actually producing a hundred tanks a year until the end of 2021. This is a very small number because we are talking about the capacity of the Russian Federation to produce 3,000 tanks per year.
This capacity still exists but cannot be used. Russia has not invested in its modernization over the years. He started doing it only in 2022 after he invaded Ukraine. We have talked about this “Russian trait” of not doing things right at the right time. This moment that Moscow missed.
China may not supply weapons to Russia, but nothing is stopping it from supplying new equipment to the Russian arms industry. Semiconductors, processors, and microchips are also on the list that China can provide. In this way, China can revive the capacity of Russian industry. In this way, Beijing can guarantee the production of hundreds of tanks in Russia.
Beijing can provide Moscow with a large range of spare parts. China still has Russian weapons systems in service, which Beijing is gradually decommissioning. Take the Russian Su-27 for example. China doesn’t really need it anymore and is therefore decommissioning it. Although there are no such signals, Beijing may provide Moscow with a set of spare parts for the Russian Su-27. They will not be in huge quantities, but they will reduce the burden to some extent.
The same can be said about the Chinese S-400 air defense systems, which can be “cannibalized” for the benefit of the Russian army. Speaking of tanks, however, China’s Type 99 tank production facilities can provide spare parts for the Russian T-72s. This is because Type 99 is based precisely on the Russian T-72. China will only need to minimally retool its tools and equipment at the Norinco plants and start churning out parts for Russian tanks.
Especially considering that Russian tanks follow one basic design line, Moscow can benefit from spare parts for almost all of its tank models sent to the battlefield.
The Chinese influence
After Russia and the US, China is the third largest defense industry. Her capacity is comparable to the two political opponents. The restoration of Russian production to its full glory can be done with Chinese equipment.
And since we are talking about tanks [although everything said applies to other sectors of military production as well] China can still give Russian tanks to Russia without Beijing directly exporting them. The Chinese influence. As much as the politicians in Washington don’t like it, Beijing has that influence, and it’s growing all the time.
China can replace Iran’s entire air defense wing. China can renew Iran’s entire tank inventory. This means that if China wants to, it can bypass warnings from Washington and “deliver Iranian weapons” to Russia, positioning itself in the Iranian market with its new tanks and air defense systems.
China can do the same with North Korea, Serbia, and Belarus. Although the embargo on North Korea is a kind of obstacle, it does not mean that it is impossible. Although the supply of Chinese weapons to Belarus would almost certainly mean “crossing a red line”, it also does not mean impossible.
Training and Renewal
Vehicles like the Y-20 for example, which are not weapons, can be leased to Russia. This will reduce the liability and depreciation of the Russian Il-76 and An-124, as well as provide a wide range of Russian logistics.
However, China can provide repairs to Russian weapons. The aid will not be exhausted only with repairs. Temporary export of Chinese express could provide the Russian military with training processes that they certainly need. At the very least, they will provide a new perspective on the war from a bystander state.
For training needs, China can provide modern tools, which in the process of work will enable the Russians to directly produce something new.
In reality, Beijing has many opportunities to provide support to Moscow. Direct arms deliveries should not always be considered the most significant aid. In the situation which the Russian Federation is facing, the aforementioned may turn out to be much more useful for the Russian offensive in Ukraine. China can, with non-military material means, support the Russian invasion of Ukraine, thereby avoiding everything “red” defined by the West.
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