Russia is in talks with a Chinese manufacturer about buying 100 drones, with a delivery date of April, German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Thursday, without citing specific sources.
In recent days, the United States, Germany and other Western countries have warned China not to sell weapons to Russia for its war against Ukraine, saying that any such move would have severe consequences.
Russia mainly dependent on Iran, North Korea for weapons
Russia, hemmed in by severe Western sanctions imposed in response to its attack on Ukraine, is believed to have bought weaponry from Iran and North Korea, including drones from the former, but China has so far stood aside.
Der Spiegel said 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 35-50kg warhead.
“I have told China's representatives that it cannot be accepted.”German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
"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.
It said the drone was similar to Iran's Shahed-136, with which Russia has launched countless attacks on Ukraine, claiming hundreds of lives and damaging civilian infrastructure.
The magazine also said Bingo had plans to help establish a production site for the drone in Russia, where up to 100 aircraft could be made a month.
Bingo could not immediately be reached for comment outside of normal business hours.
It 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.