For the first time, Chinese-origin “Tiger” Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) manufactured by Shaanxi Baoji Special Vehicles have been spotted with pro-Russian military forces despite Chinese claims that it has not supplied military aid to Moscow.
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On June 7, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov showed a video flaunting what he called the “new vehicles purchased for Chechen units participating in the SMO” at his palace.
The footage featured over eight Shaanxi Baoji Special Vehicles Manufacturing Co. “Tiger” armored personnel carriers.
Since the start of the invasion, Ramzan Kadyrov’s unit Akhmat has been officially a part of the Russian Guard and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation and has been actively taking part in the war against Ukraine.
The armored vehicles were seen to be unarmed, although they do have a weapon mount. This may be the first incident where Russian-allied troops are directly fighting the war against Ukraine and have received Chinese military vehicles.
“We have purchased (since the beginning of the war – ed.) more than a thousand items of military equipment for our soldiers, including 128 items of armored vehicles,” Chechen government officials said.
The Tiger is widely exported- with many of them sold or transferred as military aid from the Chinese govt across the world, mainly to LEO/internal security forces.
In this case, they’re unnarmed, but have a weapon mount. Vehicles of this class normally require export permission. pic.twitter.com/C7uPsHLm3P
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) June 7, 2023
The Chinese government exports the Tiger internationally, with many going to internal security units worldwide as military aid, but these APCs do need export authorization from Beijing.
The footage has come to light when Ukraine has been pushing against the Russian positions while accruing more international aid, including tanks and APCs.
The Kremlin has not acknowledged that the Chechen units have received Chinese military vehicles, although the cooperation between Moscow and Beijing remains at an all-time high.
Earlier this year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that American intelligence suggested that China is considering joining Russia’s war effort by providing the country with weapons and ammunition, which would be a “serious problem.”
“We’ve been watching this very, very closely. And, for the most part, China has been engaged in providing rhetorical, political, diplomatic support to Russia, but we have information that gives us concern that they are considering providing lethal support to Russia in the war against Ukraine,” Blinken said in an interview in February.
After preliminary intelligence input by the US intel agencies, officials reportedly spent weeks verifying the material with other intelligence sources and with partners who offered more streams of information.
Officials in the Biden administration were alarmed by the numerous intelligence strands that suggested Beijing may be considering providing Russia with lethal weapons, including artillery and ammunition.
“A Russian military that’s fueled by or aided by a Chinese infusion of weapons and platforms is more lethal militarily and more capable,” a senior administration official said. “That’s not going to be good for the people of Ukraine.”
China responded to US claims that it may give Russia non-lethal military support in its conflict with Ukraine, warning Washington to stay out of its relationship with the Kremlin.
“The US is not qualified to give orders to China,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a regular news briefing. “We will never accept US criticism, even coercion and pressure on China-Russia relations.”
However, the viral visuals showing Tiger APCs with Akhmat forces paint a different picture and will likely put Beijing in a spot.
Chinese “Tiger” Armored Personnel Carriers
The Tiger armored vehicle, manufactured by the Chinese defense enterprise Shaanxi Baoji Special Vehicles Manufacturing, was shown to the public for the first time at the Eurosatory-2012 international exhibition in Paris in June 2012.
The Tiger is built on a 4×4 cross-country truck chassis, which offers excellent all-terrain mobility. The driver and commander comprise the Tiger APC’s two-person crew, and the vehicle can accommodate nine fully armed infantrymen.
The vehicle has previously undergone rigorous off-road testing and demonstrated excellent mobility on all surfaces and in all-weather situations.
The vehicle has demonstrated strong defense against the Type 56 Chinese 7.62mm machine gun. In addition, a 12.7mm or 30mm automatic grenade launcher can be mounted on the turret. One armor plate additionally serves as protection for the turret’s front side.
An open-top circular turret on the crew compartment’s front can be added to the Tiger 4×4 APC. When the onboard armament is engaged, the gunner position is fitted with a two-piece hatch that opens on both sides and offers protection.
A Cummins ISDE200-30 Diesel engine producing 200 horsepower at 2,700 RPM powers the Shaanxi Baoji Special Vehicles 4×4 Tiger. With a maximum operational range of 600 kilometers, the Tiger can go at a top road speed of 110 kilometers/hour.
The vehicle can traverse a water depth of 800 mm without preparation and 1.2 meters with preparation, and it can climb a 60% grade while fully loaded.
A self-recovery winch is at the front of the vehicle, and a spare wheel is attached at the back of the infantryman’s compartment. The Shaanxi Baoji Special Vehicles can be outfitted with data transfer systems, searchlights, cameras, night vision gear, and various communication devices.
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