Following reports of China potentially helping its ally Russia with military equipment as well as economic aid, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Chinese Foreign Policy Adviser Yang Jiechi in Rome amid rising concerns from US President Joe Biden that China may be using the current crisis to advance its own long term interests as well as take advantage of Russia’s economically vulnerable position for profit while circumventing sanctions for its ally.
The pair reportedly spoke about the direct impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on regional security and world security alike, as well as the usage of chemical and biological weapons in the war. The intense talk was said to be about 7 hours of discussions relating to key issues in Ukraine.
“The national security adviser and our delegation raised directly and very clearly our concerns about the [People’s Republic of China] PRC’s support to Russia in the wake of the invasion, and the implications that any such support would have for the PRC’s relationship not only with us but for its relationships around the world,” said US State Department spokesman Ned Price.
Sullivan and Yang spoke about the current world situation with Ukraine and Russia, with Sullivan seeking clarity about China’s stances regarding the invasion. Furthermore, Sullivan had directly warned the adviser about the consequences of assisting Russia in circumventing certain fiscal and economic sanctions levied on the Kremlin.
The meeting is significant as China is seen to be in the middle of Russia and the United States as it is a major trading partner for the States despite ideological differences and also a major trading partner to the European Union. Its relationship and potential assistance that it would give to Russia could potentially harm its economy as the US and its allies could impose hard-hitting sanctions on China if it were discovered that they were helping the Russians avoid the effects of the sanctions.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT – National security adviser Jake Sullivan warned China that there would be consequences if it helped Russia, saying the U.S. would not allow Moscow to evade economic sanctions over the war in Ukraine https://t.co/ByYTxLgBdk pic.twitter.com/PninBOxpuL
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 13, 2022
Prior to the talks, Sullivan had previously warned China about helping Russia circumvent the economic sanctions the world has placed on Russia and Putin himself, stating that “I’m not going to sit here publicly and brandish threats,” Talking about these back channels of support, he said that “We will not allow that to go forward.”
Furthermore, he went on to say that the two countries were talking privately with Sullivan directly telling the Chinese government that there would be consequences if China were to help Russia, putting a threat on the Chinese’s minds that they cannot get away that easily if they were to help the Russians.
“We have communicated very clearly to Beijing that we won’t stand by if – we will not allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses,” said State Department Spokesman Ned Price on Monday. In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian stated that the US was merely spreading more disinformation about the issue and that it was “malicious.”
“What is pressing now is that all parties should exercise restraint and strive to cool down the situation, rather than fueling the tension,” he said. “We should promote diplomatic settlements instead of further escalating the situation, the spokesman continued.
The meeting also comes after intelligence reports revealed that Russia might be seeking Chinese help to supply it with military weapons amid losing a little over a thousand military vehicles, aircraft, and equipment during their invasion. The Ukrainians were reportedly taking over abandoned Russian tanks and armored vehicles as Russian troops were allegedly surrendering to Ukrainian forces willingly following reports that they had been lied to regarding their deployment to Ukraine. Furthermore, a large majority of the Russian troops in Ukraine were conscripts who had no idea about invasion campaigns and were reportedly demotivated due to the lack of food and generally not wanting to fight Ukrainians.
It is unclear why Russia desires these Chinese weapons as there is low interoperability, and they would have to learn how the Chinese weapon systems would work. However, it was not revealed which weapons Russia would be interested in. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied all of these allegations and claimed that they could stand alone without China’s help, who had been posturing as a neutral country amidst the chaos of war.
Chinese officials were accused by the Biden Administration of helping spread disinformation about the war and how it was shifting the narrative to say that Ukraine had been using chemical and biological weapons.
This comes after Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had also accused the US of supporting Ukraine in creating chemical and biological weapons to use against Russia. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao also accused Ukraine and the US of having 26 bio-labs and related facilities to develop said weapons, an unfounded claim. According to US officials, China had been providing cover for Russia in the case that it does use biological and chemical weapons against Ukrainians if their narrative is further pushed.
Sullivan then accused Russia that maybe they were “on the cusp of doing it themselves.” Furthermore, he stated that the Russians were preparing to use these weapons as they were already trying to justify their use as the United States had allegedly funded supposed Ukrainian efforts to develop such weapons, a claim that has no evidence until this point.
Department of Defense Spokesperson John Kirby also weighed in on the possibility that Russia may use these types of weapons; however, he reported that no such indications were determined as of the present time. “We haven’t seen anything that indicates some sort of imminent chemical or biological attack right now, but we’re watching this very, very closely,” he said.
Currently, the White House and its high-tier government officials are discussing whether Biden should meet with its European allies face-to-face to discuss its next collective moves toward Ukraine, according to insider reports. No trips have been finalized yet. However, it was rumored that Biden could visit the NATO headquarters and hold the meetings in Brussels.
After the talks between Sullivan and Yang had ended, the White House succinctly stated that the pair had discussed a “range of issues in U.S.-China relations, with substantial discussion of Russia’s war against Ukraine.”
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