Vladimir Putin has been forced to turn to Xi Jinping's China for copycat drones as Iranian supplies run low, according to officials.
Up until now, Russia has relied Iranian-made drones over the winter to carry out devastating waves of strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure.
But now, the dictator has reportedly been forced to turn to China for military drones, with the Iranian supply chain slowing down due to Western sanctions.
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It comes after Iran confirmed that there was now a "queue" of orders for its drones.
German magazine Der Spiegel is now reporting that Russia is in talks with a Chinese manufacturer about buying 100 ZT-180 drones, with a delivery date of April.
The ZT-180 drones are thought to be 'copycat' versions of the Iranian drones, the Shahed 136.
According to the Chinese drone manufacturer Xian Bingo Intelligent Aviation Technology, the ZT-180 drone could carry a 35-50kg warhead.
The company also plans to deliver components and expertise to Russia so the country itself can make around 100 drones a month.
The surprise order of Chinese drones follows assessments from European Union officials that Russia is running low on stocks of Iranian-made drones.
The Russian military had deployed hundreds of Iran's Shahed 136 to target residential buildings, power plants, and heating facilities in recent months.
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However, most of the drones were shot down by Ukraine's air defences.
The low stock of Iranian drones follows claims by Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine's spy chief, that Russia had brought 20,000 shells from Iran and was now trying to get another batch.
Mr Budanov noted that this is an extremely small amount for such an intense war, but the order confirms that Russia is running out of supplies.
Meanwhile, relations between Iran and China also appear to be strengthening as an anti-Western alliance forms, worrying the U.S. State Department.
Putin welcomed China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, to the Kremlin on Wednesday and extolled the virtues of increasing trade between the two countries, saying it could soon top $200 billion a year.
"We await a visit of the President of the People's Republic of China to Russia, we have agreed on this," Putin told Wang, referring to Xi.
"Everything is progressing, developing. We are reaching new frontiers," Putin said.
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