US warns China against helping Russia

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who is due to meet with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday, warned Beijing that it would “absolutely” face consequences if it helped Moscow evade sweeping sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

Unnamed officials reportedly told multiple US news outlets that Russia asked China to provide military assistance after it began the invasion.

The Chinese embassy in Washington said it was not aware of this request.

In a CNN interview Jake Sullivan said that “We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country, anywhere in the world.”

He added that while the US believed China was aware that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was “planning something” before the invasion happened, Beijing “may not have understood the full extent of it”.

Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for China’s embassy in Washington DC, said the high priority now is to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even getting out of control.

Since the start of the crisis Beijing has expressed strong rhetorical support for long-time ally Moscow, but is not publicly known to have provided any military or economic support.

The EU and US help Ukraine, China helps Russia; if that’s how this goes, then it’s a delineation that will make the war in Ukraine an even more consequential one.

The White House has decided to make public its claim just as President Biden’s top security adviser is due to meet with China’s most senior diplomat. It appears to be a tactical move, to put pressure on China; presumably to either confirm or deny it.

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