Any deadly Chinese aid to Russia would have “real costs,” US says

By Doina Chiacu and Sarah N Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China has failed to provide lethal aid that would help Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, and the United States has made it clear behind closed doors that such a move would have serious consequences, said Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser to the White House Sunday.

“Beijing has to make its own decisions about how to proceed, whether to provide military assistance — but if it goes down that path, there will be real costs for China,” Sullivan told CNN’s State of the Union program.

China hasn’t moved forward in providing that aid, but Beijing hasn’t taken that option off the table either, Sullivan said in a separate interview on ABC’s This Week program.

US officials have privately warned their Chinese counterparts about how high those costs could be, Sullivan said, but he declined to elaborate on those discussions.

The United States and its NATO allies have struggled in recent days to dissuade China from such a move, publicly expressing their belief that China is considering supplying lethal equipment to Russia. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday China has provided non-lethal aid to Russia through its companies.

US President Joe Biden visited Kiev and met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last Monday, in which he promised new US military aid to Ukraine worth $500 million. Friday marked the first anniversary of the Russian invasion. The United States has been by far the largest provider of military aid to help Ukraine fend off better-equipped Russian forces. Ukraine is expecting a major new Russian offensive soon.

CIA Director William Burns also commented on China in an interview aired on Sunday.

“We are confident that the Chinese leadership is considering providing lethal equipment. We also don’t see a final decision, and we don’t see evidence of actual shipments of lethal equipment,” Burns told CBS’s Face the Nation program.

Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, cited reports that drones are among the deadly weapons China has considered sending to Russia.

McCaul said Chinese leader Xi Jinping is preparing to visit Moscow next week for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin has alluded to a Xi visit, but the timing has not been confirmed by either Russia or China.

Russia and China signed a partnership without borders in February 2022, shortly before Russian forces invaded Ukraine. Economic ties between Russia and China have deepened, while Moscow’s ties with the West have shrunk.

Biden said Friday the United States would respond if China supplied Russia with lethal weapons for use in Ukraine, but added in an interview with ABC News, “I don’t anticipate any major initiative by China to supply weapons to Russia.” “

The West has been wary of China’s response to the invasion, with some officials warning that a Russian victory would hamper China’s approach to Taiwan. Beijing has never refrained from using force to bring under its rule the self-governing island that it regards as a wayward province. China has neither condemned the conflict in Ukraine nor called it an “invasion”.

“The fact that they are going to meet next week, Chairman Xi and Putin, to discuss this unholy alliance they have to bring arms to Ukraine is very disturbing to me because while today it may be Ukraine is, tomorrow it will be Taiwan,” McCaul said. “That’s why it’s so important.”

The West reacted skeptically to China’s proposal for a ceasefire in Ukraine on Friday. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Beijing had little credibility as a mediator because it had not condemned the invasion. Ukraine rejected the proposal unless Russia withdrew its troops.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham)


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