July 17, 2024

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Russian army snaps up Chinese off-road buggies popular in US

2 min read

Russia’s military has bought hundreds of Chinese all-terrain vehicles popular in the US, in a move that risks heightening tensions between the west and Beijing over President Xi Jinping’s tacit backing for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s purchases open up the buggy manufacturer Shandong Odes Industry to retaliation from authorities in the US, where the vehicles are popular among farmers and powersports enthusiasts.

China has insisted it is not selling military equipment to Russia, but Ukraine’s allies are concerned about sales of non-lethal goods useful for defence industries or on the battlefield.

Russian President Vladimir Putin inspected the Desertcross 1000-3 utility terrain vehicle earlier this month alongside defence minister Sergei Shoigu, who said the Chinese-made buggy “was extremely in demand”. Social media footage has shown Russian soldiers using them in the field.

The Russian military was already fielding 537 “basic” versions of Shandong Odes’s Desertcross 1000-3 and planned to buy another 1,500 with “additional options”, state newswire Tass reported, citing a panel the defence ministry put up next to the vehicle seen by Putin.

In a clear warning last month, US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen said Russia was “dependent on willing third-country individuals and entities to resupply its military and perpetuate its heinous war against Ukraine”.

“We will not hesitate in holding them accountable,” Yellen said.

Russia’s use of the vehicles comes as Putin’s military increasingly turns to Chinese suppliers for equipment needed to maintain its invasion of Ukraine, and highlights the dilemma facing Chinese companies whose sales to Russia could expose them to retaliation from Washington. Shandong Odes would be particularly vulnerable to such retaliation because of its high volume of US sales.

Experts said the use of the vehicles also reflected Russia’s limited military manufacturing capacity as it deploys the non-armoured…

2023-12-03 07:06:35

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