Russia has sought military and economic assistance from China amid its war against Ukraine, according to anonymous U.S. officials.
The request, which allegedly included drones, came just after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, one of the officials claimed.
Reports say the officials declined to provide further details, such as China’s response to the request and the types of weapons and other equipment Russia purportedly needs.
The news regarding Russia’s request reportedly surfaced before White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Yang Jiechi, his Chinese counterpart, met in Rome on Monday to continue the discussion that U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had in November.
“We also are watching closely to see the extent to which China actually does provide any form of support, material support or economic support, to Russia. It is a concern of ours,” Sullivan told CNN on Sunday. “And we have communicated to Beijing that we will not stand by and allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses from the economic sanctions.”
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Both China and Russia denied the existence of such a request. In a press conference on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused the U.S. of “maliciously spreading disinformation.”
“China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear,” Zhao said. “The top priority at the moment is for all parties to exercise restraint, cool the situation down instead of adding fuel to the fire, and work for diplomatic settlement rather than further escalate the situation.”
Meanwhile, Russia insisted that it has everything it needs.
“Russia possesses its own independent potential to continue the operation,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Monday. “As we said, it’s going according to plan and will be completed in full.”
Observers believe any type of Chinese military assistance to Russia will have far-reaching impacts, particularly on Washington’s foreign policy on Beijing.
“It would abruptly end debate about pathways to working with Beijing,” Eric Sayers, who served as a former special assistant to the commander at U.S. Pacific Command, told The Washington Post. “More importantly, it would push Washington to accelerate retaliatory and decoupling actions toward China, and create new pressure on companies now doing business in China.”