U.S. told NATO, Asia allies China willing to supply arms to Russia -U.S. official

2 minute read
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

WASHINGTON, March 14 (Reuters) - The United States told allies in NATO and several Asian countries on Monday that China had signaled willingness to provide military and economic aid to Russia, at Moscow's request, to support its war in Ukraine, a U.S. official said as top U.S. and Chinese officials met in Rome.

The message, sent in a diplomatic cable and delivered in person by intelligence officials, also said China was expected to deny those plans, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan was meeting with China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome, following his warning that China faced consequences if it helped Russia evade Western sanctions and amid reports Russia had asked China for military equipment.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Russia denied the reports, saying it has sufficient military resources to fulfill all of its aims in Ukraine. China's foreign ministry spokesperson described the reports as "disinformation."

Russia began its invasion of neighbor Ukraine on Feb. 24, calling it a "special operation" to demilitarize and "denazify" Ukraine. Ukraine and Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a war of aggression. read more

Disclosure of both Russia's request and China's response is part of a deliberate strategy by U.S. officials to counter disinformation by being far more open about intelligence matters than usual, the U.S. official said.

The diplomatic cable, or demarche, was relatively vague about China's willingness to provide arms to Russia, but intelligence officials were expected to share more details during in-person briefings, said the official.

Sullivan on Sunday said Washington was watching closely to see how far China provided economic or material support to Russia.

"We are communicating directly, privately to Beijing, that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them," Sullivan said. "We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country, anywhere in the world."

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Andrea Shalal Editing by Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.