United States officials say that Russia has requested military and financial assistance from China for its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, specifically Chinese drone technology, an area in which the Russian military lags behind the U.S. and NATO.
Chinese military and economic assistance would have a dramatic impact on Russia’s ability to continue its invasion into Ukraine, while simultaneously bypassing harsh Western-led economic sanctions that are currently suffocating the Russian economy.
Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson at the Chinese embassy in Washington D.C., said he was not aware of the Russian request for Chinese aid.
“I've never heard of that,” Liu told CNN. Unlike most countries in the world, China has so far refrained from criticizing Moscow’s invasion, which it officially refers to as “the Ukraine situation.”
“The high priority now is to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even getting out of control. ... China calls for exercising utmost restraint and preventing a massive humanitarian crisis," Liu added.
Senior Chinese officials reportedly asked Russia to delay its invasion of Ukraine until after the Winter Olympics in Beijing while feigning ignorance regarding Moscow’s intentions.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that Washington is now “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 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. 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,” Sullivan warned.
Sullivan, however, stopped short of accusing China of being complicit in the Russian invasion of Ukraine adding that, “it’s very possible that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin lied to them the same way that he lied to Europeans and others.”
The Russian army is formally ranked as the second most powerful military in the world according to Global Firepower, a site dedicated to ranking militaries worldwide. Despite its overwhelming military superiority, Russia’s advances have been slowed down significantly due to unexpectedly strong Ukrainian resistance.
Russia announced that 16,000 volunteers, mostly from the Middle East, are ready to join Russia’s war against Ukraine.
“If you see that there are people who want on a voluntary basis [to help east Ukraine’s separatists], then you need to meet them halfway and help them move to combat zones,” Putin recently told Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during a televised security council meeting.
In late February, pro-Russian Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov told Russian media that he was prepared to send up to 12,000 Chechen fighters to fight alongside the Russian army in Ukraine.
Russian-Chinese cooperation against the West is not new. During the Cold War, however, Soviet Russia was a global superpower while China was still a junior partner in the Soviet-Chinese alliance. Moscow’s request for military and financial aid from Beijing signals that Russia is fully aware it has been reduced to a junior player, while China is an ascending superpower.
Despite its vast geographic size, Russia’s fragile economy is comparatively small and similar in size to Italy’s, a country of only 60 million people. By contrast, China’s GDP is expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy by 2030.
So far, China has maintained a low profile during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Beijing, however, is carefully studying the unfolding crisis and the West’s response to it. There are legitimate fears that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could embolden China to eventually seize Taiwan with its vast military power.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.