Russia recently asked China for economic and military assistance in its war against Ukraine.
In its request, Russia asked China to give it military support and equipment for the war on Ukraine. Russia has also requested additional economic assistance from China, to help counteract the negative effects from the broad sanctions imposed by the U.S., Asian and European nations.
Chinese leaders so far have refused to criticize Vladimir Putin for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Beijing has criticized economic sanctions on Russia from the West.
China also has abstained in multiple votes in the United Nations to censure Russia. Despite earlier predictions that Russian forces would take Kyiv within 72 hours of the invasion, Ukrainians have been able to defend the capital and stall the Russian offensive.
China’s president, Xi Jinping, has strengthened a partnership with President Vladimir Putin and stood by him as Russia stepped up its military attacks on Ukraine, killing reportedly hundreds and perhaps thousands of civilians while destroying Ukranian cities.
American officials are keeping a close eye on China to see whether it will act on Russia’s requests for aid.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan intends to warn China about any future plans or efforts China may offer to bolster Russia in its war against Ukraine, the United States and partner nations.
“We are communicating directly, privately to Beijing that there will be absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions, evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them,” said Sullivan.
“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.”
According to Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said he had not heard of the request from Russia.
“The current situation in Ukraine is indeed disconcerting,” he said. “The high priority now is to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even getting out of control.”
The Biden administration is planning to lay out the consequences of China’s alignment with Russia and the penalties it will incur if it continues or increases its support.
Although Russia continues to launch missile barrages on both military and civilian targets independent analysts say there has been some evidence that Russian military supplies have started running low.
American officials are attempting to determine to what degree China would support Russia’s position in the talks. Officials say that the Rome meeting is critical, given the possibility of China and Russia presenting a geopolitical united front against the U.S. and allies in the future.
U.S. officials are looking for ways to compel Xi to distance China from President Putin on the war while galvanizing coordination and policies among European and Asian allies.