UNITED STATES: The US has said that it believes China may be about to offer lethal assistance to support Russia in the battle in Ukraine, leading to a direct warning from the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, to China’s senior diplomat.
At a meeting on the sidelines of the Munich security conference on Saturday night, Blinken issued a stern warning to Wang Yi, a member of the Chinese State Council, and criticised Beijing for allegedly using a spy balloon above American territory.
In a blunt meeting, he also urged China to stop assisting Russia in dodging the effects of sanctions. China’s commerce with Russia is growing, and it has been purchasing Russian oil, but likely below the US$60 per barrel price cap set by the EU and G7 nations.
Blinken disclosed to US networks that the US had information that China was evaluating whether to provide Russia with help, maybe including firearms and ammunition, for the Ukraine war.
Shortly after meeting Wang, Blinken said, “The fear we have now is predicated on the information we have that they’re considering providing lethal support.” And we have made it very plain to them that doing so may seriously harm both our relationship and ourselves.”
Blinken said that although China has not yet gone beyond merely offering moral support, he would soon publish data demonstrating that Beijing was seriously considering giving Russia supplies, including weapons.
He claimed that when he met Wang, Wang did not apologise for China’s use of a surveillance balloon over US territory. “This was an opportunity to speak very clearly and very directly about the fact that China sent a surveillance balloon over our territory, violating our sovereignty and violating international law, and I told him quite simply that that was unacceptable and could never happen again.”
According to the US, the Russian army’s mercenary branch, known as the Wagner group, may already be receiving some monitoring data from China.
The US vice president Kamala Harris cautioned China against giving weapons to a nation that she claimed the US has determined was committed crimes against humanity in her speech to the security conference. Harris did not, however, claim in her remarks that such fatal assistance would soon be given.
The US has issued concerns about China’s intentions in light of China’s proposal to announce a peace plan for Ukraine in a speech by its president, Xi Jinping, on the same day as the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
In his speech to the security conference on Saturday, Wang announced China’s intention to implement the plan. Wang has also been informing the leaders of France, Germany, and Italy of China’s intentions, perhaps in an effort to sour relations between the EU and the US.
On the other hand, China is perhaps the only outside party that might successfully use diplomacy to compel Russian President Vladimir Putin to reevaluate his approach.
Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of Nato, expressed the scepticism of the west by stating that China had not been able to denounce the invasion and that the plan was “quite vague.” He asserted that only if Russia accepted Ukrainian sovereignty could there be peace.
Dymytro Kuleba, the foreign minister of Ukraine, expressed optimism that Beijing will accept the Ukrainian situation because of China’s foreign policy tenets when he was scheduled to see Wang on Sunday.
“We believe that compliance with the principle of territorial integrity is China’s fundamental interest in the international arena, and that commitment to the observance and protection of this principle is a driving force for China, greater than other arguments offered by Ukraine, the United States, or any other country,” he stated.
Last time the matter was discussed by the General Assembly, 141 states backed Ukraine, and it might be challenging to improve that level of support.
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