China will face major “consequences” should it help Russia evade an ever-growing raft of American sanctions, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has warned, just a day before he’s set to meet with Beijing’s top diplomat in Rome.
Sullivan’s warning on Sunday came soon after unnamed Western officials told the New York Times and Washington Post that Russia is seeking weapons and economic relief from China amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. A spokesperson for the Chinese government said they were unaware of such a request, while Moscow has yet to confirm the reports.
In response to the attack on Ukraine launched in late February, the Joe Biden administration has imposed countless layers of new sanctions explicitly aiming to cripple and isolate the Russian economy. China, however, is one among several nations refusing to condemn the invasion or sever its economic ties with Russia.
Despite American pressure to join in on the sanctions spree, Chinese President Xi Jinping has stated that Beijing’s relationship with Russia “even exceeds an alliance” in its “closeness and effectiveness,” suggesting the country is unlikely to bow to Western demands anytime soon.
As President Biden has ruled out direct military action in Ukraine, the administration has instead focused on arming the country’s military while attempting to make Russia an international pariah in the diplomatic and economic spheres. China has so far been able to obstruct Biden on both counts.
Beijing’s UN delegation is supporting Russia’s claim that US-funded labs in Ukraine were working on chemical and biological weapons – a charge rejected by Washington as a ‘conspiracy theory` – and is now calling for an international investigation. Chinese financial support could also help Russia to weather the storm as its economy struggles to adapt to punishing Western sanctions.
While the US national security adviser is set to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Monday for a long-planned follow-up to Biden’s call with Xi late last year, the sit-down is unlikely to produce much in the way of results. US officials say the meeting will center on “efforts to manage the competition between our two countries,” but a source familiar with the matter told Politico it is “not about negotiating any specific issues or outcomes,” but instead will focus on “Russia’s unjustified and brutal war against Ukraine” and how “China has aligned itself with Russia to advance their own vision of the world order.”