Chinese Lethal Aid to Russia: A 6-Month Forecast

Chinese lethal aid to Russia will undoubtedly influence the course of the Russo-Ukrainian War and China’s international standing. Such a development, and its extent, is dependent on the ultimate goal of Chinese foreign policy. China perceives the West, particularly the United States (US), as a military, economic, and geopolitical rival. The same is true of Russia, to a lesser extent. Given the media coverage and government statements on the topic, analysing the likelihood of this development is pertinent.

Key Judgement 1. China will likely provide whatever aid (including lethal) is necessary for Russia to prevent an absolute defeat in the next 6 months, prolonging the war and favourably influencing the strategic environment for China.

Key Judgement 2. China is unlikely to send visibly send lethal aid in the same way that Western powers do in support of Ukraine in the next 6 months. If it does send aid covertly, it will likely be relegated to disposable items; ammunition, drones, and infantry weapons.

Key Judgement 3. The amount of clandestine non-lethal aid to Russia is likely to increase in the next 6 months, with the effect of extending the conflict and generating disinformation. 

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