US intelligence has revealed that China's substantial increase in exports of critical technologies to Russia is fueling Moscow's most ambitious military manufacturing expansion since the Soviet era, as the war in Ukraine continues. Senior Biden administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, shared the assessment on Friday, highlighting the significant impact of Chinese support on Russia's ability to sustain its assault on Ukraine.

According to the officials, China has substantially increased its exports of machine tools, microelectronics, and other crucial technologies to Russia, with around 90% of Russia's microelectronics sourced from China in 2023, as reported by CNN. These materials are being used by Moscow to manufacture a wide array of weaponry, including missiles, tanks, aircraft, and other military equipment for deployment in the conflict with Ukraine.

Moreover, the officials revealed that Chinese and Russian entities have been collaborating on the production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) within Russia, with Chinese companies likely providing nitrocellulose for ammunition manufacturing. Chinese firms such as Wuhan Global Sensor Technology Co., Wuhan Tongsheng Technology Co. Ltd., and Hikvision have also been identified as suppliers of optical components for Russian tanks and armored vehicles.

The scale of China's support is so significant that it is compensating for the setbacks experienced by Russia's defense industry early in the Ukraine war due to US sanctions and export controls. "One of the most game-changing moves available to us at this time to support Ukraine is to persuade the PRC (People's Republic of China) to stop helping Russia reconstitute its military-industrial base. Russia would struggle to sustain its war effort without PRC inputs," said a senior administration official.

The deepening China-Russia partnership is evident in the fact that nearly 70% of Russia's machine tool imports, amounting to approximately $900 million in the last quarter of 2023, originated from China. Furthermore, China is helping Russia to improve its satellite and other space-based capabilities for use in Ukraine, as well as providing imagery to Russia for its war effort.

US officials emphasize the importance of persuading China to cease this practice, with President Joe Biden raising concerns about China's support for Russia's defense industrial base in a recent phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also discussed the matter with US allies during his recent Europe trip.

While China continues to steer clear of providing Russia with lethal weaponry, the inputs it provides can be just as impactful. Earlier this year, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen delivered a warning to China of "significant consequences" if Chinese companies provide support to Russia for the Ukraine war during her trip to the country.

The revelations of China's crucial role in bolstering Russia's military production come at a critical juncture, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to discuss the concerns over China's indirect support for Russia with Chinese officials. The US has also issued an executive order targeting third-country banks that facilitate support to the Russian defense industrial base and has been in touch with banks around the world to build compliance systems to avoid inadvertently being caught up in this trade, which would result in US sanctions.