U.S. officials familiar with intelligence tell CNN that it is not yet clear whether China intends to provide that assistance to Russia. But during a seven-hour meeting in Rome, a top aide to President Joe Biden warned his Chinese counterpart of “potential implications and consequences” for China’s support for Russia, a senior executive said.
This series of events underscores the growing concern among US officials over the growing cooperation between Moscow and Beijing as Biden works to isolate and punish Russia’s occupation of Ukraine. While officials say the Chinese president is concerned about what has happened since the Russian occupation, China has made little mention of its readiness to cut off its support altogether.
This opens up a troubling opportunity for US officials – while confirming a dictatorial alliance in direct competition with the US, China could help prolong the bloody conflict that is increasingly killing civilians.
In a diplomatic cable, the United States, its allies in Europe and Asia, said China was willing to help Russia in asking for military support. The cable does not explicitly state that assistance was provided. An official said the United States had warned Cable that China might refuse to provide assistance.
Among the assistance requested by Russia are pre-assembled, non-perishable military food items, known in the United States as “food, ready to eat” or MREs, according to two sources familiar with the matter. This demand underscores the fundamental logic challenges that military analysts and officials say have hindered Russian progress in Ukraine – and raises questions about the Russian military’s basic readiness.
Forward-stopped units usually outnumbered their supply convoy, and open source reports show Russian troops infiltrating grocery stores in search of food as the invasion progresses. One source suggested that food may be a demand that China is prepared to face, as it would put an end to the death toll, which is deeply viewed by the West.
“Some are genuinely concerned that the involvement of some could affect economic relations with the West on which China depends,” one source said.
In Rome, the US delegation met with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi, raising concerns about “China’s support for Russia in the aftermath of the invasion and the implications of such support.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Netflix said China needs to build ties with the United States and its partners around the world.
“That includes allies and partners in Europe and the Indo-Pacific,” Price said at a State Department conference on Monday.
A senior U.S. defense official told reporters Monday that Ukrainian forces have “effectively attacked Russian logistics and sustainability capabilities in the war.” The United States does not believe Russia’s missile strikes on a Ukrainian military training center in western Ukraine will affect US efforts to supply arms ships to the country’s military.
The United States is watching China’s response to Russia’s occupation of Ukraine
Given China’s recent rapprochement with Russia, the United States has viewed those efforts with some skepticism. Over the weekend, U.S. officials said Russia had sought military support from China, including drones, as its invasion was progressing slower than the Kremlin had expected. Both the Chinese and Russian governments have publicly denied that the request was made.
Sullivan told CNN on Sunday that China’s support for Russia was a “concern.”
“We are closely monitoring the extent to which China really provides support, material support or economic support to Russia. This is our concern. We have also stated to Beijing that we will not stand by. Allow any country to compensate Russia for the losses caused by sanctions,” Sullivan said.
U.S. officials say they believe the Xi did not calm down due to the Russian invasion and the performance of the Russian military, which has suffered logistical and strategic setbacks since the invasion began two weeks ago. Seen from Beijing, the United States had been warning about the invasion for weeks, and officials said Shi had been captured because his own intelligence could not predict what had happened.
“They may not have understood the full extent of it,” Sullivan told CNN on Sunday.
China weighs in on the damage that Russia’s actions will do to its reputation, largely due to global rejection and sticking with Russian President Vladimir Putin. An economic breakdown with Europe or the United States would hurt the Chinese economy, which is growing slower than it has been in 30 years.
For all those reasons, US officials believe that engaging with China is an essential moment in deciding how to proceed in the midst of Russia’s occupation. U.S. and Chinese officials have been in constant contact for the past several weeks before and after the Russian invasion.
Another name for China – “The United States is closely monitoring the extent of the PRC,” Price said. Is it financial aid to Russia?
“Such support from anywhere in the world would be of great concern to us,” he said.
He declined to comment specifically on reports about the diplomatic cable.
“We have made it very clear to Beijing that we will not stand by … we will not allow every country to make up for Russia’s losses,” he added.
Price categorized the Chinese response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as somewhat “secondary.”
“I read a statement the other day from a PRC official that the situation was complicated. There was nothing complicated about it. It was blatant aggression,” he said.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is pushing its relationship with China into turmoil
Sullivan’s meeting in Rome on Monday was a continuation of a nearly three – hour virtual summit between US President Joe Biden and Xi in November, while U.S. officials began warning of a large Russian troop deployment along Ukraine’s borders. In that call, he warned that dividing the world into competing blocks would “inevitably lead to disaster.”
Nevertheless, Russia’s invasion has done more to link the world to rival alliances than anything Biden has done with the aim of improving US relations – with the result that US intelligence has found that Xi is not even ready, but rather believes that European economic interests will deter countries there. Imposes severe restrictions.
That dynamic complicated the relationship that Xi and Putin declared in a lengthy document when they traveled to Beijing in February to negotiate and attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, with “no limits.” The US decision to hold a diplomatic boycott of the Games angered Xi, officials said, adding that Putin’s presence in the stadium was even more important.
The emerging response in China to the Russian invasion – from denial of one, to avoiding public condemnation, to showing itself as a potential mediator – is being closely monitored by the White House, where the potential of the Moscow-Beijing alliance is being looked at. Increased anxiety. CIA Director Bill Burns said last week that the partnership was rooted in “a lot of cold reasons.”
Even before the war in Ukraine, a new “axis” was developing against US-led efforts to improve regional security, including in the economic, political and military spheres. But Director of National Intelligence Avril Hines told lawmakers last week that the United States does not consider the alliance to be fully developed.
“We see that we are not yet where we are, for example, with allies,” Haynes said. “They have not achieved that kind of cooperation. We expect it to not be possible in the next five years … in that context we are an ally with our other NATO members.”
This story has been updated with additional reporting.