Chatham House
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Chinese supply chains could tip the balance in Ukraine


Disrupting supply chains of critical minerals to those supporting Ukraine could give China a key advantage in its wider international trade competition.

Direct military intervention from China into the war on Ukraine, with Chinese troops and airmen appearing at the front line, would be highly escalatory and highly unlikely.

Equipping Russia with weapons and equipment is much more likely – if indeed it hasn’t already happened – and considering the West is supplying armaments to Ukraine, a joust with western technologies would be an interesting development to follow.

But if Chinese weapons underperform in the heat of battle, this may have implications for the current situation with Taiwan and the US, as a poor outcome on the Ukraine front could give the West more confidence over the tensions in the South China Sea. And the use of Chinese weapons in Ukraine would also be a feast for Western technical intelligence to capture.

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