White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks to the media. File photo
Washington and its NATO allies are scrambling to dissuade China from providing military aid for Moscow's war, making public comments on their belief that Beijing is considering providing lethal equipment possibly including drones.
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Western fears of China helping to arm Russia come as Moscow's forces struggle to make gains around key objectives in eastern Ukraine, and as Kyiv prepares a counter-offensive with advanced Western weapons including battle tanks.
"Beijing will have to make its own decisions about how it proceeds, whether it provides military assistance — but if it goes down that road it will come at real costs to China," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN's "State of the Union" programme.
A militia serviceman gets ready to fire. File/AP
While China had not moved forward in providing that aid, neither had it taken the option off the table, Sullivan said in a separate interview on ABC's "This Week" programme.
Beijing has refused to condemn Moscow's attack on Ukraine, most recently at a meeting of the Group of Twenty (G20) in India on Saturday. It published a ceasefire proposal on Friday, the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but the offer was met with skepticism among Ukraine's Western allies.
"When I hear reports - and I don't know whether they are true - according to which China may be planning to supply kamikaze drones to Russia while at the same time presenting a peace plan, then I suggest we judge China by its actions and not its words," German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius told German public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Sunday.
In advance of the talks, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan bluntly warned China to avoid helping Russia evade punishment from global sanctions that have hammered the Russian economy. "We will not allow that to go forward,” he said.
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"All this undeniably proves that Washington, contrary to White House and Pentagon claims, is directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
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