As Ukrainians and their allies mark a year since Russia rolled tanks over its border, Vladimir Putin’s government is reportedly looking further abroad for new weapons.
It’s believed about 100 ‘kamikaze-style’ Chinese drones could be heading to the battlefields as early as April, if a new deal with a Chinese manufacturer goes ahead.
The United States, Germany and other Western countries have in recent days warned China not to sell weapons to Russia, saying that any such move would have severe consequences. Russia, hemmed in by severe sanctions, is believed to have bought weapons from Iran and North Korea, including drones from the former. So far, China has stood aside.
But that could be about to change.
The information on the deal came from sources speaking with German newspaper Der Spiegel on Thursday night. The paper reported that Chinese drone manufacturer Xian Bingo Intelligent Aviation Technology had said it was prepared to make 100 prototypes of its ZT-180 drone, which the magazine said could carry a 35 to 50 kilogram warhead.
Russia goes after Chinese drones
Reports that Russia could be about to ink a deal with a Chinese manufacturer of drones have sparked alarm, with allies moving to once again warn Beijing not to supply arms.
Der Spiegel reported the Russian military has been negotiating with Xi’an Bingo Intelligent Aviation Technology over the mass production of kamikaze drones.
Not only would Moscow receive the supplies from China but Russians would also be given the blueprints for how to create the drones themselves, according to the magazine’s sources.
That would give Moscow the ability to produce up to 100 aircraft each month.
The ZT-180 drone, which is still undergoing testing, was similar to Iran’s Shaheed-136, with which Russia has launched countless attacks on Ukraine.
The report added that there had been earlier plans for a company controlled by the Chinese army to send Russia spare parts for its SU-27 warplane.
“I have told China’s representatives that it cannot be accepted,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told ZDF public television earlier on Thursday when asked about less specific reports that China might help Russia.
Rishi Sunak to issue rally cry before UK falls silent
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is preparing to rally G7 nations to “move faster” with weaponry and defensive equipment for under-resourced Ukrainian soldiers.
In a virtual meeting with other leaders, Mr. Sunak is expected to tell allies they must rush supplies to help Kyiv’s forces capitalize on Russian weaknesses in the coming weeks.
“They are over-reaching once again. So now is the time to support Ukraine’s plan to re-arm, regroup, and push forward,” he will say, according to a statement provided by his office.
Mr Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murty will hang a blue and yellow wreath on the door of Number 10 and at 11am Friday will pause for a minute’s silence to remember the many thousands of people who have been killed or injured since this day last year.
“For Ukraine to win this war – and to accelerate that day – they must gain a decisive advantage on the battlefield… Instead of an incremental approach, we need to move faster on artillery, armor, and air defense,” he will say. .
Mr. Sunak will join military personnel in observing the national moment of reflection at his Downing Street office.
Alongside the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, the PM will also host Ukrainian armed forces personnel and representatives of 10 nations supporting the government’s program to provide them with extra military training.
“As we mark one year since a full-scale war broke out on our continent, I urge everyone to reflect on the courage and bravery of our Ukrainian friends who, every hour since, have fought heroically for their country,” he said in the statement.
“I am proud that the UK has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine through this horrific conflict.”
After the US, the UK has been the biggest donor of aid to Ukraine.
Cities mark the anniversary
Paris lit up the Eiffel Tower in blue and yellow and people draped in Ukrainian flags gathered at a vigil in London last night.
“There will be a life after this war, because Ukraine will win,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a speech before the Eiffel Tower was lit up to show solidarity with Ukraine.
“I think no one will run out of this fierce desire for freedom, for Europe, for democracy that the Ukrainians are showing.”
In Brussels, European Union buildings including those of the European Parliament and Commission were similarly lit up in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
In London, people gathered at a vigil in Trafalgar Square. Some were draped in Ukrainian flags and holding banners – including one that said “Put Putin in the bin” in reference to the Russian President.
Welcome to the Telegraph’s live blog
Today, the Telegraph is marking the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
We will bring you all the latest updates on the war and will also look back on how the past year shaped Ukrainians – and how it impacted the rest of the world.