The Kremlin has asked China’s government for military equipment and other assistance to support the Russian invasion of Ukraine, per multiple reports citing US officials on Sunday.
What to watch: US officials said there were indications that Russia’s military was running out of weaponry and one added that the US was “preparing to warn its allies” due to signs that Beijing may be prepared to help Moscow, according to the Financial Times, which first reported the news.
- It was not immediately clear what types of arms Russian officials had requested, or whether US officials they knew of how China’s government has responded, per the Washington Post.
Meanwhile, National security adviser Jake Sullivan is due to travel to Rome on Monday for a meeting with senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi to discuss Russia’s invasion.
What they’re saying: Sullivan told CNN earlier on Sunday that US officials were “communicating directly, privately to Beijing that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them.”
- He added that the US “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.”
- Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in DC, said he had not heard of any request from Russia officials, per the New York Times.
- “The current situation in Ukraine is indeed disconcerting,” he said, stressing Beijing wants to see a peaceful resolution. “The high priority now is to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even getting out of control.”
The big picture: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir have forged closer ties, including military cooperation, Axios’ Zachary Basu notes.
Flashback: As Russia’s military was building the capacity to invade Ukraine last month, Putin and Xi issued a joint statement ahead of their meeting at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics that voiced opposition to the further enlargement of NATO.
- The Kremlin had repeatedly made comments previously over negotiations on NATO’s expansion, using the threat of military action to demand a legal guarantee that Ukraine would never join the alliance, Basu notes.
- Representatives for the Biden administration did not immediately return Axios’ request for comment.
Go deeper: Western sanctions tie Russia even tighter to China
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.