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China supporting Russia would be ‘a mistake’ says Sullivan
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China may well begin supplying Russia with arms if the Ukraine war continues on its current trajectory, Express.co.uk has been told. The Asian nation has expressed unprecedented interest in the outcome of the war in recent weeks, urging all players to come to an agreement. President Xi Jinping unveiled a 12-point peace plan on the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine war, calling for, among other things, the “ceasing of hostilities” and the “abandoning of the Cold War mentality”.
This is a move in a different direction for China. The country has largely sat on the fence since February 24, 2022, eager to maintain its diplomatic relationships with both Russia and the West.
Things were made worse for the country as just weeks before Vladimir Putin’s invasion, it entered a “no limits” friendship agreement.
Reports suggest China has already committed itself to the war after NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg said he had seen signs of Beijing supplying Moscow with lethal aid. Although, no concrete evidence has as of yet turned up.
Looking to the next 12 months of the war, Dr Neil Melvin, Director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), believes that despite its rhetoric — or perhaps because of it — China will soon start supplying Russia with weapons.
While he said Ukraine might gain ground, offering a pessimistic scenario, he told Express.co.uk: “Perhaps the Ukrainians can’t beat the Russians.
“The Russians have are going to throw in as many people as it takes, paying whatever economic costs.
“Perhaps China will start supplying the weapons, at which point Ukraine may find itself having to settle for an agreement with Russia which sees large parts of its territory, including Crimea, essentially given to Russia.
“At that point, a new division of Ukraine emerges.”
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China’s position on Russia and the war has wildly varied in the past year.
On the day of the full-scale invasion, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and noted the “special historical context of the Ukraine issue” and “Russia’s legitimate security concerns.”
Mr Wang said: “China maintains that the Cold War mentality should be completely abandoned and a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism should be finally established through dialogue and negotiation.”
On the same day, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying challenged the “Western media’s” use of the word “invasion” and calls Russia’s activity a “special military operation.”
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Only a month later, US President Joe Biden reportedly briefed the European Council about a conversation he had with Xi on March 18, claiming the Chinese premier said he did not see “Putin as an equal” and that he had “doubts about where the Russia-China relationship can go.”
And by late April 2022, China’s state-owned UnionPay payments network started refusing to cooperate with Western-sanctioned banks in Russia, including Sberbank.
At the beginning of 2023, the Financial Times reported an anonymous Chinese official as calling Putin “crazy” and asserting that China shouldn’t “simply follow Russia.”
The US has urged China not to supply Russia with weapons — calls which come just weeks after Washington chastised Beijing after several alleged spy balloons were shot down over its airspace.
China has helped Russia in terms of economic assistance, buying vast quantities of oil and other energy supplies.
According to the US Department of Defense, senior government leaders “have all talked to the potential ramifications of China providing lethal aid.”
General Pat Ryder told a Pentagon news conference: “We have not seen that they’ve done that at this point. But, again, it’s something that we’ll continue to closely monitor.”
White House officials have said there are “indications” that China is contemplating supplying Russia with weapons.
However, General Ryder added: “There is no indication Chinese leaders have decided to arm Russia, but they haven’t taken it off the table.
“And, so, we want to be crystal clear that that would be a poor decision, should they decide to do that.”
Writing in an analysis piece for ABC, Mick Ryan, a strategist and retired Major General in the Australian Army, said it is “highly likely that the Chinese have been providing Russia with strategic intelligence in the past year.”
He continued: “While the People’s Liberation Army will have limited battlefield intelligence to share, they will have been collecting intelligence on decision-making in Western capitals as well as intelligence on Western weapons and levels of production.
“Much of this would have been provided to Russia.”
writing in an analysis piece for ABC
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