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14 Mar, 2022 23:22

US warns China against helping Russia

Washington has threatened “significant consequences” for economic, military, or political assistance
US warns China against helping Russia

The US warned China against helping Russia in any way, the White House confirmed on Monday, following a meeting between President Joe Biden’s national security adviser and a senior Chinese diplomat.

If China provides “military or other assistance” to Russia, “there will be significant consequences,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. As to what that might entail, Psaki only said the US will “coordinate with our partners and allies to make that determination.” 

Her comments come after the meeting in Rome between Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and Chinese envoy Yang Jiechi. While the meeting had been in the works for months and involved a lengthy agenda, the conflict in Ukraine was also discussed.

On Sunday, ahead of the meeting, Sullivan told US media that the White House was “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,” he added.

An unnamed Pentagon official told reporters on Monday the US has seen China “basically give tacit approval to what Russia is doing” and will “watch very closely” if Beijing provides any military aid to Moscow.

This was in regard to widely reported claims over the weekend – sourced to anonymous US officials – that Russia had asked China for military and financial aid. A senior White House official briefing the press ahead of Psaki’s main event declined to comment on those reports, however. 

“What I would just say, in general, is that we do have deep concerns about China’s alignment with Russia at this time, and [Sullivan] was direct about those concerns and the potential implications and consequences of certain actions,” the official said.

Asked about media reports that Russia had requested aid, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington Liu Pengyu told Reuters on Sunday he “had never heard of that,” and said China’s priority was “to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even getting out of control.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Monday that the press reports were “disinformation” from the US. He added that Beijing remains opposed to “unilateral sanctions” and that its government will resolutely safeguard the rights of Chinese businesses.

Moscow sent troops into Ukraine last month, citing Kiev’s refusal to implement the peace plan for the breakaway Donbass regions. Ukraine called it an unprovoked attack. Siding with Kiev, the US and its allies have enacted far-reaching sanctions against Russia, aimed at “crippling” the country’s economy in the long-term, and ramped up deliveries of weapons to the Ukrainian military.