Washington: The US has warned China will face harsh “consequences” if it aids Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, according to US media reports.
This news comes just hours ahead of White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s scheduled meeting with Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday.
The first in-person, high-level talks between the two countries since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, comes right amid reports quoting a senior US official saying Russia has asked China for military assistance in Ukraine, including drones.
US media reports quoted unnamed officials reportedly telling on Sunday that Russia asked China to provide military assistance two weeks after it began the invasion on February 24.
The Chinese embassy in Washington said it was not aware of this request, the BBC said. 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, it added.
China’s response to Russian request is not known yet. Chinese Embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu in fact told CNN on Sunday he had not heard of Russia’s request.
CNN could not though confirm the report with the Russian embassy in the US. White House NSA Sullivan told CNN on Sunday that China providing Russia with support will be a “concern.”
“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. It is a concern of ours. And we have communicated to Beijing that we will not stand by and allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses from the economic sanctions,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said the US has made it clear to Beijing there will “absolutely be consequences” for “large-scale” efforts to give the Kremlin a workaround to US sanctions.
“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 said.
Chinese Embassy spokesperson Liu said: “I’ve never heard of that. China is deeply concerned and grieved on the Ukraine situation. We sincerely hope that the situation will ease and peace will return at an early date.
“The current situation in Ukraine is indeed disconcerting. Utmost efforts should be made to support Russia and Ukraine in carrying forward negotiations despite the difficult situation to produce a peaceful outcome. We support and encourage all efforts that are conducive to a peaceful settlement of the crisis.
“The high priority now is to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even getting out of control. There is consensus about this among the international community, including the parties concerned.”
“China calls for exercising utmost restraint and preventing a massive humanitarian crisis. China has put forward an initiative for responding to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. China has provided Ukraine with humanitarian assistance, and will continue to do so.”
The situation since last week, when the White House said China was “abiding by the requirements that have been put in place” over sanctions, appeared to have apparently changed in view of the reports.