China Has Already Decided to Send Economic Aid to Russia in Ukraine Conflict, US Officials Fear | China
China has already decided to provide Russia with economic and financial support during its war against Ukraine and plans to send military supplies such as armed drones, US officials fear.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan laid out the US case against invading Russia during an “intense” seven-hour meeting in Rome with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, stressing that Moscow had feigned an interest in diplomacy while preparing for the invasion, and also that the Russian military was clearly showing signs of weakness.
The US delegation in Rome did not expect Chinese diplomats to negotiate, seeing them as bearers of messages to Beijing.
“It was an intense seven-hour session, reflecting the gravity of the moment, as well as our commitment to keeping lines of communication open,” a senior administration official said. “This meeting was not intended to negotiate specific issues or outcomes, but a frank and direct exchange of views.”
When asked if it had been a success, the manager replied: “I guess it depends on how you define success, but we think it’s important to keep the lines of communication open between the United States and China, especially in areas where we disagree.”
However, the Americans walked away from the Rome meeting, pessimistic that the Chinese government would change its mind about backing Moscow.
“The key here is to first get China to recalculate and reassess its position. We don’t see any sign of that reassessment,” said another U.S. official familiar with the talks. were going to provide economic and financial support, and they underlined that today. The question is really whether they will go further.
Armed drones and various forms of ammunition top the list of Russian military purchases from China, but any military transfer would not be straightforward.
“Both parties understand that they don’t share common systems, which makes things problematic,” the official said. CNN reported that the Russian military was also asking for ration packs, underscoring its serious logistical problems in a conflict that was longer and more difficult than expected.
Russia urgently needs economic and financial aid, in the face of devastating sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies since the February 24 invasion. The country is at risk of defaulting on its debt payments, with two interest payments due on Wednesday, despite having a 30-day grace period.
Moscow is unable to access nearly all of its $640 billion in gold and currency reserves, but still holds some of those reserves in yuan, so Beijing will be able to step in to provide a immediate help.
There is pessimism in Washington about the possibility of distancing China from its fate with Russia, largely because it sees the partnership as being driven from above.
“It’s really a Xi Jinping project. He is totally, fundamentally behind this closer partnership with Russia,” the US official said. There is more skepticism in the lower ranks, but Xi and Putin have bonded by their shared vision of the United States as heavy-handed and authoritarian, and determined to end the period of US global domination.
If China supports Russia in its confrontation with the West, the Biden administration will focus on persuading its allies, especially in Europe, to rethink their relationship with Beijing. Sullivan is due to travel to Paris on Tuesday for talks with the French government.
“The United States believes that the key here is a careful process of dialogue and discussion with Europe about what China reveals about its global policies and priorities,” the US official said. “Our goal is basically to engage China carefully, to let the Europeans know [what we are doing] from the beginning, but if it becomes clear that [China] goes in another direction, so be it.