China is considering handing over arms and ammunition to Russia for the war in Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after meeting his Chinese counterpart amid bilateral tensions.
In an interview, Blinken told CBS News that Chinese companies were already providing “non-lethal support” to Russia, and that new information indicated that Beijing may now provide “lethal support.” This escalation would mean “serious consequences” for China, he warned.
“The concern we have now is based on the information we have that they are considering providing lethal support” to Moscow for use in its invasion of Ukraine, Blinken said. This would involve “everything from ammunition to the weapons themselves,” she added.
China has denied reports that Moscow has requested military equipment.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has yet to condemn the invasion of Russia,
Blinken spoke to CBS after meeting with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, yesterday at the Munich, Germany Security Conference.
He said that during the meeting he expressed “deep concerns” about the “possibility of China providing lethal material support to Russia.”
He did not elaborate on what information the United States had received about China’s potential plans.
The US government of President Joe Biden has sanctioned a Chinese company for allegedly providing satellite images of Ukraine to the mercenary Wagner Group, which supplies Russia with thousands of fighters.
Blinken told CBS that “of course, in China, there really is no distinction between private companies and the state.”
If China were to provide Russia with weapons, that would cause “a serious problem for us and our relationship,” he added.
Relations between Washington and Beijing were already poor before the United States shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon in early February.
Both parties exchanged angry words, but they still seemed embarrassed by the incident and seemed ready to move on.
Blinken also said the United States is concerned that China will help Russia evade Western sanctions designed to cripple Russia’s economy.
China’s trade with Russia has been growing and is one of the largest markets for Russian oil, gas and coal.
NATO members, including the United States, are sending weapons, ammunition and equipment to Ukraine, including tanks.
For now, they are reluctant to send fighter jets, and Blinken would not say whether the United States would help other countries supply planes.
“We have been very clear that we should not obsess or focus on any particular weapons system,” he said.
However, he said the West must ensure that Ukraine has what it needs for a possible counter-offensive against Russia “in the coming months.”
Russia is currently trying to push into the eastern regions of Ukraine, where some of the fiercest fighting of the war has taken place.
Wang said yesterday in Munich that China “has not stood idly by and added fuel to the fire” on the war in Ukraine, in his speech at the Munich conference.
China will publish a document setting out its position on resolving the conflict, Wang said. The document would state that the territorial integrity of all countries must be respected, he added.
“I suggest that everyone start thinking calmly, especially friends in Europe, about what kind of efforts we can make to stop this war,” Wang said. He
added that there were “some forces that apparently don’t want the negotiations to succeed, or that the war will end soon,” but he did not say who he was referring to.
The Chinese president is scheduled to deliver a “peace speech” on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Friday, February 24, according to Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who received Wang in Rome this week.
Tajani told Italian radio that Xi’s speech would call for peace without condemning Russia