Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang meets with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the Group of 20.
Xinhua News Agency | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images
Europe’s top diplomat said the West needs to be vigilant when it comes to support for Russia from China, after U.S. officials warned that Beijing could be about to send lethal weapons to Moscow.
China’s role in international politics in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year has been a particularly sensitive one for western nations.
The CIA Director Bill Burns told CBS News last week that he is confident China is considering providing lethal aid to Moscow. This could spark a major escalation in the war, giving Russia’s struggling military a significant boost.
“China has always told us they are not providing arms to Russia and they don’t plan to do it, very much explicitly,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, told CNBC Friday. “But certainly, we have to remain vigilant.”
His comments came at the end of a G-20 foreign affairs meeting in India which was marked by a stark division of opinions toward Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“There is a big divide, and Russia will continue the war,” he added.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met his Russian counterpart briefly on the sidelines of the G-20 gathering, in what represented their first in-person contact since the invasion started more than a year ago. Blinken had previously told NBC that there is information that China is “strongly considering providing lethal assistance to Russia.”
Meanwhile, Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, said last week that if Beijing does provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, it “will come at real costs to China.”
So far, China has not categorically denied the accusations.
At a press briefing Friday, Mao Ning, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said the country had made its position clear.
“On the Ukraine issue, China’s position has all along been objective and fair. We are committed to promoting talks for peace and working for the political settlement of the crisis,” she said.
“The U.S. has been pouring lethal weapons into the battlefield in Ukraine and heightening tensions, while spreading false and malign accusations against China. We do not accept coercion or pressure from the U.S. What the U.S. should do is facilitate de-escalation and promote talks for peace rather than fuel the flame or point fingers at other countries.”
China presented in February a 12-point plan to end the war in Ukraine. Authorities in Kyiv have said they are open to considering some of these points, but also reiterated that any peace accord would have to involve the full withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.