Russia asked China for assistance in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials warn.
The New York Times reported that Russian officials sought military equipment and support from their Chinese counterparts as the invasion of Ukraine — launched last month by Russian President Vladimir Putin — continues.
Russian leaders also sought economic assistance from China to help lessen the burden of sanctions issued by Western nations that have devastated the Russian economy.
American officials declined to describe the specific hardware requested by the Russian government.
Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, said that China will “absolutely” face consequences if it chooses to support the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Fox News reported.
Sullivan said, “We believe China, in fact, was aware before the invasion took place that Vladimir Putin was planning something. They may not have known the full extent of it, because it’s very possible that Putin lied to them in the same way he lied to Europeans and others. We also are watching closely to see the extent to which China actually does provide any form of support, material support, or economic support to Russia.”
He went on to say, “I’m not going to sit here publicly and brandish threats, but what I will tell you is that we are communicating directly, privately to Beijing that there will absolutely be consequences for large scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them. 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.”
Sullivan would not say whether the U.S. would issue sanctions on China if it was found to be supporting the Russian invasion.
During the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted Vladimir Putin for a series of diplomatic discussions where the two leaders agreed to declare a “no limits” partnership.
This agreement committed China and Russia to support each other on the geopolitical stage as both countries grow increasingly aggressive.
At the time of the agreement, Russian leadership continued to deny that it had any intention of launching an invasion of Ukraine.
China is one of the few global powers to avoid condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the Chinese government did call for a diplomatic peace to be brokered between Russia and Ukraine.
MarketWatch reported that the Chinese government abstained on the votes in the United Nations censuring Russia and has criticized the West’s sanctions against Russia.