American officials claim Moscow has requested equipment and other assistance from Beijing since the start of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the Financial Times. Sources in Washington declined to tell the broadsheet what Russia had specifically requested from China.
However, another source familiar with events in Ukraine revealed America is set to warn allies that Beijing may be preparing to assist Moscow.
The White House did not comment to the Financial Times.
Chinese embassy spokesperson in Washington, Liu Pengya, did respond.
He said: “China is deeply concerned and grieved on the Ukraine situation.
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“We sincerely hope that the situation will ease and peace will return at an early date.”
The report comes just days after it was revealed Chinese leader Xi Jinping refused to back Putin’s request for aviation supplies.
The decision, which was considered a snub from Beijing to Moscow, came at a time when the Russian aviation sector was reportedly being drastically squeezed by sanctions imposed in the West.
Jake Sullivan, a national security adviser in Washington, is set to head to Rome for talks later today with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.
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Earlier in February, Xi and Putin signed a fresh declaration indicating the two nations would have “no limits” in their partnership.
Ex-CIA China analyst Chris Johnson warned Russia’s request indicated Moscow and Beijing had brought Sino-Russian relations to their closest point since the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s.
Mr Johnson said: “But it also highlights China’s position as the clear senior partner in the relationship now.
“Moreover, if they even are considering providing assistance, that speaks volumes about the personalised nature of the relationship amidst Chinese fears that Putin could fall, unleashing chaos on their northern border unseen since the collapse of the Soviet Union.”