China may give Russia weapons and ammunition for use in the war in Ukraine, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Blinken made the comments to the press after a meeting with China’s top diplomat in Munich.
Russia and China are allies, although the latter has remained officially neutral in the war between Russia and Ukraine. Beijing has denied claims that Moscow requested military equipment.
Washington’s relations remain extremely strained with both Beijing and Moscow. A recent debacle involving an alleged Chinese spy balloon over American airspace has further aggravated Chinese-American relations.
Could china supply Russia with weapons and ammunition?
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was attending the Munich Security Conference when he met with China’s foreign minister Wang Yi.
After discussions with Wang Yi on the sidelines of the conference, Blinken spoke to CBS News and said that Chinese firms had already provided Russia with “non-lethal support” and suggested that Beijing might provide “lethal support,” according to new information.
During the meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Blinkedn expressed Washington’s “deep concerns” about the “possibility that China will provide lethal material support to Russia”.
“To date, we have seen Chinese companies… provide non-lethal support to Russia for use in Ukraine. The concern that we have now is based on information we have that they’re considering providing lethal support,” he explained to CBS.
Beijing and Moscow’s relationship
During the most recent face-to-face meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping – just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine – the two leaders agreed upon a “no-limits” partnership between their respective countries.
China’s position on the war itself is officially neutral, although the conflict has pushed Moscow and China closer together as both states’ relations with the West continue to worsen. Beijing has frustrated the West by refusing to comply with sanctions levied against Moscow and not condemning the invasion of Ukraine.
“Given NATO’s five consecutive rounds of eastward expansion, Russia’s legitimate security demands ought to be taken seriously and properly addressed,” said Wang Yi back in February 2022.
Although the warming of relations between Russia and China is a concern for the West, some analysts have pointed out that it is not entirely positive for Russia, which has become more dependent on China since the conflict in Ukraine has made it somewhat of a paiah on the international stage.
“Moscow is becoming weaker both absolutely and relatively, tilting the relationship ever more in Beijing’s favor and creating uncertainty about future interactions,” assessed Joseph Webster, an analyst for The Diplomat.
The meeting between Blinken and Wang Yi occurred during a period of tensions between the US and China. The shooting down of a balloon earlier this month over American airspace is responsible for the latest deterioration of relations. The US alleged that the balloon was sent by China to spy on sensitive military sites in the US.
According to a statement released by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi told Blinken that the US must “face up to and resolve the damage” to bilateral relations “caused by the indiscriminate use of force” when the US shot down the balloon.
The suspected espionage is not the root cause of deteriorating relations. Rather, the incident underlines the growing tensions caused by great power competition.
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