Is China really considering arming Russia in Ukraine war?
The US on Sunday accused China of considering arming Russia in its war against Ukraine, escalating tensions as the February 24 anniversary of Russian tanks rolling into the war-torn nation approaches.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS that the Asian nation was now “considering providing lethal support” to Moscow ranging “from ammunition to the weapons themselves,” raising warnings about “a serious problem for us and in our relationship.”
The top US diplomat made similar comments in interviews from Germany, where on Saturday he attended a privately organised annual event – Munich Security Conference – and met with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, as well.
The three-day talks around global security, which commenced Friday, centred around the deadly war in Ukraine and escalated geopolitical tensions between the US and China over an alleged Chinese spy balloon incident.
Also at the conference, the EU raised alarms over severe ammunition shortages facing Ukrainian forces. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell brought Ukraine’s depleting supplies of bullets and similar munitions under the spotlight, calling for accelerated military support to Ukraine to overcome the shortages within weeks.
China’s top diplomat Wang insisted that the country would support dialogue and potential peace talks, amid concerns that Beijing is deepening ties with Moscow despite the conflict.
Appearing on ABC, Blinken on Sunday emphasised that US President Joe Biden had warned his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, against sending weapons to Russia. Since the warning as long ago as last March, “China has been careful not to cross that line,” an administration source aware of the issue mentioned.
Providing Russia with weapons now would be “dumber than dirt”, said Lindsey Graham, a prominent US Republican senator who also attended the annual conference.
As part of a further step in the West’s gradually escalating efforts to support Ukraine, the US is also expected to soon announce plans to train Ukrainian fighter pilots, Graham added.
Also at the annual talks, US Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday said the US had formally determined that Russia has committed ‘crimes against humanity’ in Ukraine.
Although the phrase has often been used interchangeably with ‘war crimes’ during the brutal conflict, there is a noteworthy difference. While the latter phrase represents crimes only committed during an armed conflict, the former talks about those committed during times of war as well as peace.
US President Biden will speak in the Polish capital of Warsaw on Tuesday to hail NATO’s effort to help Ukrainians, while his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin – on the same day – is set to give his own speech in Moscow.