Russia’s reported calls for military supplies put China in a fix

New York: Russia has asked China for military help and aid in evading sanctions imposed on Moscow as it continues to wage its war against Ukraine, the BBC reported citing US officials as saying.

China’s Embassy in Washington says it is not aware of the request, as the US warns of consequences. Russia’s reported calls for military supplies and economic assistance from China are putting their relationship in the spotlight, just weeks after the two countries declared that their partnership has “no limits”, the BBC reported.

Publicly, the Chinese government has called on both sides to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine and notably has not referred to the Russian military operation as an “invasion”.

The two countries have strong economic ties, trade reached a record $147 billion last year. Despite that, and the close personal relationship between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping which was on show at the recent Winter Olympics, China may be wary of facing consequences stemming from continued support for Russia.

In a tweet, Richard Haass, an American diplomat and president of the Council on Foreign Relations, described the dilemma for Xi.

The White House has decided to make public its claim just as President Biden’s top security adviser is due to meet China’s most senior diplomat. It appears to be a tactical move, to put pressure on China; presumably, to either confirm or deny it, the BBC reported.

The bigger aim could be to try to make Xi weigh up the pros and cons to his current position of what was last week called a “rock-solid” relationship with Moscow. It was just weeks ago, as the Winter Olympics opened in Beijing, that Presidents Xi and Putin declared a new alliance that had “no limit”.

Military aid could, clearly, be part of that. But in the days after Russia’s invasion, China has condemned the UK, the US, and others for giving weapons to Ukraine’s military, saying they were adding “fuel to the fire”.

If the US intelligence assessment is correct and Beijing follows through on that request, then they too would be “adding fuel”, the BBC reported. (IANS)

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