(Reuters) – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday the alliance has seen signs that China is considering supplying arms to Russia and warned Beijing against any such move.
The announcement came days after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China about the consequences of providing material support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We have not seen any lethal aid supplies from China to Russia, but we have seen signs that they are considering and may be planning this,” Stoltenberg told Reuters in an interview.
“That’s the reason why the United States and other allies have been very clear, warning against this. And China, of course, should not support Russia’s illegal war,” he added.
There was no immediate comment from China, but its Foreign Ministry said Thursday that any alleged intelligence information on arms transfers from China to Russia that the United States plans to release is only speculation.
Russia and China signed a “no-holds-barred” partnership last February, shortly before Russian forces invaded Ukraine, and their economic ties have grown as Moscow’s connections with the West have dwindled.
The West has been wary of China’s response to the war in Ukraine, with some officials warning that a Russian victory would affect Chinese actions toward Taiwan. China has not condemned the conflict in Ukraine or called it an “invasion.”
China has said it will define its position on how to resolve the conflict in Ukraine through political means in an upcoming document, which Russian state media say will be published on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s “special military operation.”
Ukraine-China meeting ‘desirable,’ says Zelenskiy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Thursday that he has not seen any plans from China to end Russia’s war against his country, but that “it is desirable” for Chinese and Ukrainian representatives to meet.
He said on the eve of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that Kiev had already communicated a desire for such a meeting.
“We would like to meet with China,” he said during a press conference in Kiev with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who is visiting the Ukrainian capital. “That is in Ukraine’s interest today.”
China’s top diplomat said Beijing will define its position on resolving the conflict in Ukraine by political means in a document that will refer to the principles of the founding charter of the United Nations and take into account issues of territorial integrity, sovereignty and security.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is also expected to deliver a “peace speech” on the anniversary of the invasion on February 24.
Zelenskiy said he has heard only “general things” about Chinese proposals through Ukrainian diplomats, but that it is encouraging that China is considering brokering peace.