Russia's Wagner Group Tried To Get Weapons From China: Pentagon Leaks
Leaked US intelligence from the trove of classified Pentagon documents that recently appeared online show that Russia's mercenary firm Wagner Group tried and failed to obtain weapons from China.
Wagner "sought munitions and equipment" from China in "early 2023", the leaked documents say; but China had not sent the weapons, "not even for testing, and had no contact with [Wagner] regarding weapons deliveries," according to analysis of the documents by Financial Times.
The time period corresponds to Wagner chief Prigozhin growing bolder and more public with his denunciations of the official Russian military command for intentionally withholding arms and ammunition-sharing with the private group.
Also during that time, US officials said that they had intelligence saying China had been discussing possibly sending weapons to Russia, but hadn't made the decision yet. These Pentagon leaked documents appear reveal the basis on which the officials were making the claims.
According to FT's description of the leaked intelligence:
Wagner’s direct request to China indicates it had some confidence Beijing would be open to arming Moscow, going beyond other non-lethal forms of support for the military campaign provided by Chinese companies. But as of early January, China "had not sent [Wagner] any weapons, not even for testing, and had no contact with [Wagner] regarding weapons deliveries", according to the report. The US has publicly claimed China is considering supplying Russia with lethal arms to replace crucial stocks of ammunition, artillery and missiles, but there is no evidence Beijing has provided such assistance.
In February, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Meet the Press that the US is "very concerned that China is considering providing lethal support to Russia in its aggression against Ukraine."
#China refused to provide weapons to Wagner pic.twitter.com/bRNCxS4VAW— RoINTEL (@RoINTEL) April 20, 2023
This also after clearly closer relations between Beijing and Moscow have been on display, particularly in President Xi's controversial recent trip to Moscow. Still, Chinese officials have consistently denied that they've supplied Russia with lethal aid, a stated policy which doesn't appear to have changed since the start of the Ukraine war.