WASHINGTON: US officials are warning China against supplying Russia with arms and ammunition, as Moscow struggles to gain ground in Ukraine despite deploying almost the entirety of its ground forces in its smaller neighbor.
Concerns that China was considering providing lethal assistance to Russia first surfaced in meetings between officials late last year and early this year, officials said. U.S. officials put their Chinese counterparts on notice in videoconferences and at in-person meetings that China is “nearing a red line” in assisting Russia’s war, the officials said.
With the war approaching the one-year mark, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said publicly this weekend that Washington had information that Beijing was weighing providing lethal support to Moscow, primarily in the form of weapons.
“We’ve made very clear to them that that would cause a serious problem for us and in our relationship,” Blinken told CBS News in an interview after meeting Saturday with China’s top foreign-policy official, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
“If there are any thoughts and efforts by the Chinese and others to provide lethal support to the Russians in their brutal attack against Ukraine, that is unacceptable,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told CNN on Sunday.
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The new concerns are being aired as President Biden travels to Poland this week to rally European allies, while Wang is scheduled to arrive in Moscow on Monday for talks. Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to deliver a major address to Russia’s Federal Council on Tuesday.
“The most catastrophic thing that could happen to U.S.-China relationship, in my opinion, is for China…to start to give lethal weapons to Putin in this crime against humanity,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) on ABC News on Sunday. He said China providing lethal aid “would be like buying a ticket on the Titanic after you saw the movie.”
Beijing has called for a negotiated settlement in Ukraine. At the same time, China has provided crucial economic and diplomatic support for Moscow, buying up Russian energy and accusing the U.S. and NATO of creating conditions that provoked Russia’s invasion.
Beijing has denied it is aiding the Russian war effort and said its companies conduct normal trade with Russia. (Int’l News Desk)