Russia, China Thumb Their Nose At Biden Treasury Sec’s Threat To Roll Out New Sanctions

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Top officials from Moscow and Beijing met on Tuesday to reaffirm their countries’ deepening ties — one day after U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen threatened China with stringent sanctions in the event of it doing “anything” to aid Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing on Tuesday to discuss a host of topics, including the Russia-Ukraine war, deepening economic cooperation and shared opposition to their perception of U.S. interventionism, according to The Wall Street Journal and The South China Morning Post. Yellen spoke on Monday — also from Beijing — about the “consequences” the Biden administration would impose on China if the country were to provide any aid to Russia in its Ukraine war. (RELATED: Asian Countries Shift Alliances From US To China As Beijing Ramps Up Economic, Military Efforts)

Yellen is in China for the second time in nine months, following up on her first trip in June 2023 to address key concerns about the U.S.-China relationship with Beijing officials.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (L) attends a meeting with Beijing mayor Yin Yong in Beijing on April 7, 2024. (Photo by Pedro PARDO / AFP) (Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images)

“We continue to be concerned about the role that any firms, including those in the [People’s Republic of China] PRC are playing in Russia’s military procurement,” Yellen said during a press briefing on Monday. “I stressed that companies, including those in the PRC, must not provide material support for Russia’s war and that they will face significant consequences if they do.”

“Anything that involves aiding Russia’s military in their brutal war against Ukraine is unacceptable to us and we have the ability to sanction it,” Yellen told CNBC during an interview on Monday.

One day later, Lavrov met with Xi and Wang in Beijing and condemned the U.S.’ involvement in Russia-China affairs. Russia has strengthened its “no-limits” relationship with China since Moscow invaded Ukraine in early 2022 and was subsequently hit with Western sanctions.

“There is no place for dictatorship, hegemony, neocolonial and colonial practices, which are now being applied by the United States and all the rest of the collective West unquestioningly submitting to the will of Washington,” Lavrov told Wang, calling the West an “an overt anti-Chinese, anti-Russian orientation,” according to the WSJ.

Russia has shrugged off some of the weight of sanctions with the help of China, which is Moscow’s largest trading partner as of 2024, according to The Council on Foreign Relations. The U.S. and European Union (EU) nations have sanctioned Russia in the energy, military and financial sectors and froze more than $330 billion in central bank assets.

Since the Russia-Ukraine war began Chinese-state defense contractors have ramped up exports of dual-use technologies, which have both civilian and military applications, to Russian-state defense contractors, according to the WSJ.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China April 9, 2024. Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT.

The exports include drones, jet-fighter parts, body armor, assault rifles, jamming technology and navigational equipment, according to the WSJ and Politico. Classified U.S. intelligence documents leaked in 2023 indicate that China had approved the “provision of lethal aid” to Russia but wanted to keep it secret, according to The Washington Post.

Publicly, however, China denies that it sells weaponry to Russia and dismissed Yellen’s warnings of sanctions on Monday. Beijing has taken a neutral stance on the war, and has yet to condemn Russia’s military actions against Ukraine, according to the WSJ. (RELATED: Biden Speaks 1-On-1 With Xi Jinping For First Time In Months)

“On Ukraine, we are committed to playing a constructive role in promoting ceasefire and political settlement of the crisis,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said during a press conference on Monday. “Normal cooperation between China and Russia should not be subject to foreign interference or restriction, and China always opposes illegal unilateral sanctions.”

China and Russia are also two major players in the BRICS, a coalition of Eastern nations aimed at weakening traditional Western dominance and establishing an anti-U.S. dollar model across the globe. Lavrov promised Xi during their meeting on Tuesday that Russia would double down on BRICS cooperation with China and find methods to evade sanctions, the Morning Post reported.

Lavrov also said on Tuesday that Xi and Putin will meet again on the sidelines of the annual BRICS summit in Russia this year.

“China always attaches great importance to the development of China-Russia relations, and stands ready to strengthen bilateral communication with Russia and enhance multilateral strategic coordination in BRICS and… promote the reform of the global governance system,” Xi said during his meeting with Lavrov, as quoted by Chinese-state media.

The U.S. Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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