Biden will punish China if it grants military aid to Russia, says Blinken

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said Thursday that the United States will punish China if President Xi Jinping chooses to provide military aid to Russia for the war in Ukraine, where Russian forces have killed soldiers. thousands of civilians.

“We are concerned that they are planning to directly help Russia with military equipment for use in Ukraine,” Blinken told a news conference in Washington. “President Biden will meet with President Xi tomorrow and make it clear that China will take responsibility for any action it takes to support Russia’s aggression, and we will not hesitate to impose costs.”

Mr. Blinken is the most senior US official to have explicitly warned China against military aid to Russia. He said that because of China’s ties to Russia, he had a special responsibility to try to persuade President Vladimir V. Putin to end his war.

But “it appears China is moving in the opposite direction by refusing to condemn this aggression, while seeking to portray itself as a neutral arbiter,” Blinken said.

The White House announced Thursday that Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi would speak on Friday as part of “ongoing efforts to keep lines of communication open.” The two presidents are expected to discuss the war in Ukraine and competition between the United States and China, among other issues, the White House said.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi last spoke Nov. 15 in a video call. The interview scheduled for Friday was arranged by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Yang Jiechi when the two met in Rome on Monday, Jen Psaki said. White House press secretary. During a seven-hour meeting, Mr. Sullivan warned Mr. Yang that China should not help Russia.

“This is an opportunity for President Biden to assess President Xi’s position,” Ms. Psaki said at a press conference on Thursday. She added that there had been an “absence of denunciation by China of what Russia is doing”, which “goes against, of course, everything that China stands for, including the principles of basis of the United Nations Charter, including the basic principles of respect for the sovereignty of nations.

“So the fact that China hasn’t denounced what Russia is doing speaks volumes in itself,” Psaki continued. “And that says a lot not just in Russia and Ukraine, but around the world.”

Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin met on Feb. 4 in Beijing, two weeks before the invasion, and released a 5,000-word statement saying their two countries had a “limitless” partnership.

US officials told The New York Times on Sunday that Russia asked China to provide military equipment and support after Mr Putin began his full-scale invasion on February 24. An official said Russia has also requested economic aid to help ease the harsh sanctions imposed on the country by the United States and its European and Asian allies.

The State Department has sent telegrams to its allies saying China has given positive signals on military aid, a European official said Monday. The official added that Russia had requested five types of equipment: surface-to-air missiles, drones, armored vehicles, logistics vehicles and intelligence-related equipment.

A senior Pentagon official gave different details this week, saying Russia’s request included drones, secure radios and even ready-to-eat meals, rations for troops commonly known as MREs. The official said the United States had received indications before the Rome meeting that China was inclined to meet the Russian request.

The officials spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of diplomatic, military and intelligence issues.

Pentagon officials detected that the Russian military had problems with the performance of air-to-surface and surface-to-surface missiles during the war. The Russian ground offensive has stalled in parts of Ukraine, with columns of tanks and other armored vehicles sitting for days on the roads. US officials have given a conservative estimate that more than 7,000 Russian troops have been killed, more than the number of US troops killed in more than 20 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

The Russian military has turned to a tactic it used in the wars in Chechnya and Syria: firing barrages of missiles, rockets and shells into towns to kill civilians, including many women and children, in an attempt to force a surrender.

Even with the massacre, Chinese officials persisted in supporting Russia. They blamed the US for the war and echoed Mr Putin in criticizing NATO. Chinese diplomats and state media have amplified Kremlin propaganda and a conspiracy theory about Pentagon-funded biological weapons labs in Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Xue Hanqin, the Chinese judge at the International Court of Justice, sided with the dissenting Russian judge a decision that Russia must immediately end its war in Ukraine. The vote was 13 to 2.

Beginning in November, US officials shared information about Russian troop buildups around Ukraine with Chinese officials and asked them to try to persuade Mr Putin not to invade, but were rebuffed. said US officials. And a Western intelligence report said senior Chinese officials had asked senior Russian officials in early February to suspend the invasion of Ukraine until after the Winter Olympics in Beijing, US officials said. and Europeans.

Qin Gang, Chinese Ambassador to the United States, written in an opinion essay published Tuesday by the Washington Post that “claims that China knew about, condoned, or tacitly supported this war are pure misinformation.”

Evan S. Medeiros, who served as senior director for Asia at the Obama White House National Security Council, written in an opinion essay published Thursday by the Financial Times that Europe, China’s largest trading partner, must pressure Beijing to stop supporting Moscow in the war.

“His strategic alignment with Russia before the invasion, combined with his empowerment of Russia since the first missile hit, evokes the Sino-Soviet alliance of the 1950s,” he wrote, referring to a time when Mao and Stalin coordinated on politics and foreign policy. .

Eric Schmitt contributed report.

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