Scholz urges China not to arm Russia as U.S. explores sanctions

  • Global divisions over war in Ukraine
  • Scholz: disappointing that China does not condemn Russia
  • U.S. sounding out allies about possible China sanctions
  • Scholz: allies discussing security guarantees for Ukraine
  • Scholz promises more help to German defence industry

BERLIN, March 2 (Reuters) - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday urged China not to send weapons to help Russia's war in Ukraine and instead asked Beijing to exert pressure on Moscow to pull back its forces.

In a speech to the German parliament, Scholz said it was disappointing that Beijing had refrained from condemning the Russian invasion, though he welcomed its efforts towards nuclear de-escalation.

China has denied any intention to arm Russia and one of its senior diplomats told the United Nations on Feb. 23 that "sending weapons will not bring peace" but add "fuel to the fire".

Scholz's remarks underscored how the international response to the war in Ukraine highlighted global divisions, as China and India have refrained from condemning the Russian invasion or joining the West in imposing sanctions.

The divisions have also reared their head at a series of G20 meetings in India that descended into wrangling over the war. Germany has said it planned to counter Russian "propaganda" at this week's talks, while Russia on Thursday accused Western countries of turning the event into a "farce".

The U.S. is sounding out close allies about the possibility of imposing new sanctions on China if Beijing provides military support to Russia for its war in Ukraine, sources told Reuters this week.

"My message to Beijing is clear: use your influence in Moscow to urge the withdrawal of Russian troops," Scholz said, to resounding applause from lawmakers. "And don't deliver any weapons to the aggressor Russia."

The U.S. consultations on sanctions, which are still at a preliminary stage, are intended to drum up support from a range of countries, especially those in the wealthy Group of Seven (G7), to coordinate support for any possible restrictions.

It was not clear what specific sanctions Washington will propose.

China's role in the Russia-Ukraine war is expected to be among the topics discussed when U.S. President Joe Biden meets Scholz at the White House on Friday.

Scholz's blunt message to Beijing comes at a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and China and as Germany is also reassessing what kind of relationship it wants with China, hitherto a vital export market for German goods.


For its part, China has issued a 12-point paper calling for a comprehensive ceasefire that was met with scepticism in the West. While welcoming Beijing's stance on nuclear de-escalation, Scholz said "One can rightly expect China to discuss its ideas with the main stakeholders - with the Ukrainians and with President (Volodymyr) Zelenskiy."

Zelenskiy has expressed a desire to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping but it is not clear whether such a meeting would take place.

As the war grinds on into its second year with no sign of ending, Scholz also offered a glimpse of how the West might see a future peace.

He said Germany was in talks with allies about giving security guarantees to Ukraine, but he did not say what form they could take, and added they would only work if Ukraine prevailed in the war.

The war in Ukraine has prompted Germany to ramp up defence spending and overhaul its dilapidated military. While facing down some jeers and laughter from lawmakers about his plans to strengthen the army, Scholz promised to help the German defence industry with long-term contracts and down-payments in order to speed up production.

Scholz said there "cannot and will not be a peace agreement over the heads of the Ukrainian people".

"One also does not achieve peace, when one shouts "never again war" here in Berlin, and at the same time demands that all weapons deliveries must be stopped."

Reporting by Miranda Murray, Matthias Williams, Andreas Rinke; Writing by Matthias Williams; editing by Friederike Heine, Alex Richardson and Raissa Kasolowsky

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