WASHINGTON – A US official said Russia had asked China for military equipment to use in its invasion of Ukraine, a request that heightened tensions over the ongoing war ahead of Monday’s meeting in Rome between top aides to US and Chinese governments.
Prior to the talks, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned China to avoid helping Russia evade global sanctions that have hit Russia’s economy. “We will not allow this to continue,” he said.
The prospect of China offering financial aid to Russia is one of several concerns for President Joe Biden. A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive issues, said in recent days Russia had asked for support from China, including military equipment, to move forward in its ongoing war with Ukraine. The official did not provide details on the scope of the request. The request was first reported by the Financial Times and The Washington Post.
The Biden administration also accuses China of spreading Russian disinformation, which could be a pretext for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces to attack Ukraine with chemical or biological weapons.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put China in a delicate position with two of its largest trading partners: the United States and the European Union. China needs access to these markets, but has also shown support for Moscow by joining Russia in declaring unrestricted friendship.
In talks with China’s senior foreign policy adviser, Yang Jiechi, Sullivan will really look to the limits of what Beijing will do for Moscow.
“I will not sit here in public and wave threats,” he told CNN in a series of interviews with news programs on Sunday. “But what I’m going to tell you is that we are communicating directly and privately with Beijing that there will be consequences” if China helps Russia “make up” for its losses from sanctions.
“We will not allow this to continue and allow Russia to have a lifeline from these economic sanctions from any country in the world,” he said.
In brief comments on the talks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijiang did not mention Ukraine, saying “the key issue at the meeting is the implementation of the important consensus reached by Chinese and US heads of state at their virtual summit last November.”
“They will exchange views on China-US relations and international and regional issues of common interest,” Zhao said in a comment posted on the ministry’s website late Sunday.
The White House said the talks would focus on the direct impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine on regional and global security.
Biden officials say Beijing is spreading false Russian allegations that Ukraine has run US-backed chemical and biological weapons laboratories. They say China is effectively providing cover if Russia launches an attack with biological or chemical weapons against Ukrainians.
When Russia began accusing other countries of preparing for biological or chemical attacks, Sullivan told NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “It’s good to say they may be on the verge of doing it themselves.” .
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told ABC’s “This Week” that “so far we have not seen anything that indicates an impending chemical or biological attack, but we are watching this very, very closely.”
Striking US accusations of Russian disinformation and Chinese complicity came after Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said without evidence that the United States was funding Ukrainian laboratories for chemical and biological weapons.
The Russian statement was backed by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijiang, who said there were 26 biolabs and related facilities “in which the US Department of Defense has absolute control.” The United Nations has said it has not received any information to support such allegations.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki called the allegations “ridiculous.”
Concerns are growing in the White House that China is joining Russia in the war in Ukraine in the hope that it will improve Beijing’s “vision of world order” in the long run, according to someone familiar with the administration’s thinking. The person was not authorized to comment publicly and speak on condition of anonymity.
Sullivan told CBS’s Face the Nation that Russia’s rhetoric about chemical and biological warfare is an indicator that the Russians are actually preparing to do so and try to shift the blame, and no one should fall for that. “.
The international community has said Russia used chemical weapons in an attempt to kill Putin’s opponents, such as Alexei Navalny and former spy Sergei Skripal. Russia also supports the Assad government in Syria, which uses chemical weapons against its people in a decade-long civil war.
China is one of the few countries that avoids criticizing the Russians for its invasion of Ukraine. Chinese leader Xi Jinping hosted Putin for the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics, just three weeks before Russia’s February 24th invasion.
During Putin’s visit, the two leaders issued a 5,000-word statement declaring boundless friendship.
The Chinese abstained from a UN vote against Russia and criticized economic sanctions against Moscow. She expressed support for the peace talks and offered her services as a mediator, despite questions of her neutrality and limited experience in mediating international conflicts.
But questions remain about how far Beijing will go in alienating the West and putting its own economy at risk. Sullivan said China and all countries are aware that they cannot “save Russia in principle … give Russia a workaround by sanctions” with impunity.
Chinese officials have said Washington should not be able to complain about Russia’s actions because the United States has invaded Iraq under false pretenses. The United States says it has evidence that Saddam Hussein is stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, although they have never been found.
According to CNN, Sullivan said the administration believed China knew Putin was “planning something” before invading Ukraine. But he said the Chinese government “may not have understood the full extent of this, because it is very possible that Putin lied to them in the same way he lied to Europeans and others.”
Sullivan and Young last met face-to-face in Switzerland, where Sullivan expressed the Biden administration’s concern over China’s military provocations against Taiwan, human rights abuses against ethnic minorities and efforts to suppress proponents of democracy in Hong Kong.
This meeting marked the beginning of the three-hour virtual meeting in November between Biden and C.
Sullivan is also scheduled to meet with Luigi Matiolo, a diplomatic adviser to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, while in Rome.
Associated Press author Hope Yen contributed to this report.
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Russia is seeking military assistance from China
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