Ukraine crisis: US warns China against helping Russia
China will face consequences if it helps
Russia evade sanctions in its invasion of Ukraine, the US says.
Unnamed US officials reportedly told multiple
news outlets that Russia had asked China to provide military assistance after
it began the invasion.
The Chinese foreign ministry did not address
the allegation directly, but accused the US of maliciously spreading
disinformation about China.
The exchanges come before top US and Chinese
officials meet in Rome.
US media outlets, citing Washington
officials, say that Russia has in recent days asked China specifically for
military equipment, including drones.
In a CNN interview, US National Security
Adviser Jake Sullivan said they were "communicating directly, privately to
Beijing that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions
evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them".
"We will not allow that to go forward
and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from
any country, anywhere in the world," he said.
He added that while the US believed China was
aware that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was "planning something"
before the invasion happened, Beijing "may not have understood the full
extent of it".
"Because it's very possible
that [Mr] Putin lied to them the same way that he lied to Europeans and
others," Mr Sullivan said.
In response, a spokesman for the
foreign ministry in Beijing, Zhao Lijian, said the US had "been spreading
disinformation targeting China on the Ukraine issue, with malicious
Asked if he could clarify whether
China had received a request for military help from Russia, Mr Zhao said this
was "fake news" but did not deny it directly.
He added that China's stance had
always been consistent and that China was playing a constructive role in
Mr Sullivan is due to meet Yang
Jiechi, a member of China's top decision-making body, the Politburo, and head
of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, on Monday in Rome.
Reuters news agency quoted a US
official as saying that during the meeting, Mr Sullivan would spell out the
consequences and isolation China would face if it increased support for Russia.
China has so far refrained from
condemning Russia for the invasion and has said Moscow's "legitimate
security concerns" should be taken seriously.
When the United Nations General
Assembly voted to condemn Russia's invasion earlier this month, China was one
of 35 countries that abstained.
But Beijing at the same time has
expressed "unwavering support" for Ukraine's sovereignty. It has also
called for peace and has said it is ready to help end the war through
diplomacy. Several countries have urged China to do more to stop Russia's invasion.