China-linked Russian body armor is landing on the battlefield in Ukraine

Source: Politico | March 28, 2023 | Erin Banco and Steven Overly

Photos on eBay and other sites show the Russian body armor, which Ukrainians say they’ve recovered from the front lines.

A Russian body armor manufacturer is importing Chinese components for its vests — some of which are being used on the battlefield in Ukraine, according to trade data, photographs and Ukrainians who say they’ve recovered the vests from the front lines.

In 2022, multiple Chinese companies, including one linked to the government in Beijing, sent parts for body armor manufacturing to Klass, a Russian manufacturer of body armor with ties to the country’s national guard and law enforcement, according to customs and trade data obtained by POLITICO from Import Genius, a customs data aggregator.

Armored vests produced by the company are being used by Russian troops in Ukraine, according to photos and videos posted online, and Ukrainians who are selling the vests on eBay say they took them from the battlefield.

While it’s unclear if the Russian military’s use of the Klass vests is widespread, it is the first confirmation that Chinese-made protective equipment is being used by Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

The new information highlights how Russia continues to rely on China for help propping up its war effort in Ukraine despite western pressure on Beijing to scale back its support for Moscow.

The revelation also raises questions about how the U.S. plans to address with Beijing the issue of “dual-use items” — commercial equipment that can also be used for military purposes.


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