Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China may be aiding Russia with “lethal support” in its military operation against Ukraine.
Blinken met with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, at the Munich Security Conference Saturday, where he expressed concern about China providing lethal aid to Russian troops. He told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that U.S. officials have retrieved information that the Chinese government is seriously considering supplying weapons.
“The concern that we have now is based on the information we have that they are considering providing lethal support and we’ve made very clear to them [China] that that would cause a serious problem for us and our relationship,” Blinken said.
He said this includes both ammunition and weaponry in addition to the non-lethal support the nation has already provided to Russia since the beginning of the war in February 2022. U.S. officials have feared this possibility since the very start of the war, leading President Joe Biden to raise the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping in its first weeks.
The U.S. sanctioned a Chinese company in late January for allegedly aiding the Wagner Group, a mercenary organization that provides thousands of fighters to Russia, with satellite imagery of Ukraine, BBC News reported. (RELATED: China To Team Up With Russia, Conduct Joint Naval Drills)
Blinken pointed to a February 4, 2022 meeting between Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the weeks leading up to the Russian invasion in which the allied countries established a “partnership with no limits” and expressed opposition to expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The secretary of state said the U.S. remains concerned that this unlimited support includes China aiding the war in Ukraine.
Xi has yet to condemn the war in Ukraine and has remained neutral on the issue, a position which Putin has praised. The two leaders affirmed their alliance in September by denouncing the U.S.’ opposition to a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
Blinken also addressed the “growing concern” of Iran providing Iranian-made drones to Russia to assist the war in exchange for Russian weaponry.