Russia has asked China for arms and financial aid following its invasion of Ukraine, according to reports.
The White House is said to be concerned that Beijing could undermine Western efforts to help Ukrainian forces defend their country, according to several US officials who spoke with the White House. financial times other the Washington Post.
The officials declined to reveal what kind of military equipment or financial support Moscow had requested, citing fears that such information could inadvertently reveal how the intelligence was gathered.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who is due to meet China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday, warned Beijing that it will “absolutely” face consequences if it helps Moscow evade sweeping sanctions over the war in Ukraine.
Sullivan plans in his meeting with Yang to clarify Washington’s concerns while outlining the consequences and growing isolation China would face globally if it increases its support for Russia, a US official said, without providing details.
Sullivan told CNN on Sunday that Washington believed China was aware that Russia was planning some action in Ukraine before the invasion occurred, though Beijing may not have understood the full scope of what was planned.
He added that Washington was closely watching the extent to which Beijing provided economic or material support to Russia, and would impose consequences if that occurred.
“We are communicating directly, privately with Beijing, that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or supporting Russia to pad them,” Sullivan said.
“We will not allow that to go forward and there will be a lifeline for Russia from these economic sanctions on any country, anywhere in the world.”
China has so far asserted its neutrality over the war in Ukraine and has refused to condemn Russian leader Vladimir Putin for ordering the invasion.
When asked about Russia’s request for military aid, Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, denied the reports, saying: “I have never heard of it.”
He said that China finds the current situation in Ukraine “puzzling,” adding: “We support and encourage all efforts leading to a peaceful resolution of the crisis.”
The US-China summit, which has been planned for some time, is believed to be part of a broader effort by Washington and Beijing to keep channels of communication open and manage competition between the world’s two largest economies. .
Wang Huiyao, head of a Beijing think tank and adviser to the Chinese government, warned of “a spiral escalation” in a column published on the New York Times on Sunday, saying China was “in a unique position to act as a neutral mediator between a Western-backed Ukraine and Russia” to end the war.
“As distasteful as some in the West may find the idea, it is time to offer the Russian leader an off-ramp with the help of China,” Wang wrote.
US officials were skeptical of the proposal given China’s ties to Russia and its spread of war-related misinformation.
The United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union have imposed sweeping and unprecedented sanctions against Russia and banned its energy imports, while providing billions of dollars in military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.
Individually and collectively, they have appealed to China, the Gulf nations and others who have failed to condemn the Russian invasion to join in isolating Russia from the global economy.
Beijing, a key trading partner of Russia, has refused to call Russia’s actions an invasion, though China’s President Xi Jinping last week called for “maximum restraint” in Ukraine after a virtual meeting with the German chancellor. Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Xi also raised concerns about the sanctions’ impact on global finance, energy supplies, transportation and supply chains, amid growing signs that Western sanctions are limiting China’s ability to buy Russian oil.
However, Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of the state-backed Chinese publication global times newspaper, said on Twitter: “If Sullivan thinks he can persuade China to participate in sanctions against Russia, he will be disappointed.”
Washington and the G7 advanced economies stepped up pressure on Russia on Friday by calling for its “most favored nation” trading status to be revoked, which would allow them to raise tariffs on Russian goods.
Trade accounted for about 46 percent of Russia’s economy in 2020, much of it with China, its main export destination.
Additional information from Reuters