August 11, 2022

Russia has reportedly reached out to China to ask for military equipment and economic assistance to aid its Ukraine invasion — a development that comes as the White House national security adviser is meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Rome to discuss the war.

Russia sought out military equipment to press its attack on Ukraine as the country runs low on supplies, US officials told the Washington Post.

The officials did not specify what kinds of weapons Moscow asked for or how China responded.  

But national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who is meeting with China’s top foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi on Monday, said the US has informed Beijing that “there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions, evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them.” 

“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,” Sullivan said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

C​hina’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian​ acknowledged that Ukraine will “definitely be a hot topic” at the talks in Rome on Monday but accused the US of spreading false claims. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Grigorenko at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 14, 2022
Mikhail Klimentyev / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
People and medics help a wounded resident of a house destroyed by shelling as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues.
People and medics help a wounded resident of a house destroyed by shelling as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues.
REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A crane removes a ruined car from in front of a destroyed apartment building after it was shelled in Kyiv on March 14, 2022.
A crane removes a ruined car from in front of a destroyed apartment building after it was shelled in Kyiv on March 14, 2022.
ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

“Recently, the US side has peddled disinformation against China on the Ukraine issue with sinister intentions,” Lijian told reporters.

“China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear, and we have been playing a constructive role in promoting peace talks. It is imperative for all parties to exercise restraint and cool down the tension, rather than adding fuel to the fire; it’s important to push for a diplomatic solution, rather than further escalating the situation,” he said. 

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China buys weapons from Russia, including fighter jets and surface-to-air missile systems, but it’s a one-way arrangement.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky slams Russia deploying "mercenaries" he calls "murderers from Syria" to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky slams Russia deploying “mercenaries,” whom he calls “murderers from Syria,” to Ukraine.
AFP PHOTO / UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY
A resident of a house damaged by shelling looks out of a broken window as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues on March 14, 2022.
A resident of a house damaged by shelling looks out a broken window as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues on March 14, 2022.
REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

“As far as I know, China does not sell any weapons systems to Russia,” Taylor Fravel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in Chinese defense, told the Washington Post.

“In other words, Russia has enabled China’s military modernization but China so far has not contributed much to the development of Russia’s armed forces, apart from the profits of Russian weapons sales, which can be reinvested to improve Russian​ ​capabilities,” he said.

A month after President Vladimir ​Putin appeared at the Winter Olympic Games with China’s Xi Jinping and the two leaders touted their “unshakable” bond and decried NATO expansion in Europe, Beijing referred to its relationship with Moscow as “strategic partners.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping via a video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on December 15, 2021.
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping via a video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on December 15, 2021.
MIKHAIL METZEL/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
A fragment of a missile is seen in the street after shelling in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk on March 14, 2022.
A fragment of a missile is seen in the street after shelling in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk on March 14, 2022.
REUTERS/Stringer

China also denounced the invasion of Ukraine and said it would work to bring about a cease-fire. 

​The Communist-ruled country is caught between any alliance with Russia and the realities of losing critical trading partners in the US and Europe. 

With Post wires