(CNSNews.com) – European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday that he told China’s top diplomat at the weekend that any Chinese military assistance to Russia’s war on Ukraine would be “a red line” – the same expression used a day earlier by a senior U.S. diplomat.
The warnings from the E.U. and U.S. came as Wang Yi, the Chinese Communist Party’s senior foreign affairs official, began a visit to Moscow, wrapping up a week-long trip that took him to several European capitals, and to the Munich Security Conference.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that President Vladimir Putin may meet with Wang, adding that the Chinese visitor’s agenda was “extensive, and there is a lot to talk about.”
Borrell told reporters in Brussels that, in his weekend discussions with Wang in Munich, “I expressed my – our – strong concern about China providing arms to Russia and asked him not to do that.”
Borrell added that he had expressed “not only our concern, but the fact that for us, it would be a red line in our relationship.”
“[Wang] told me that they are not going to do it, that they don’t plan to do it,” he said. “But we will remain vigilant.”
Asked at a press conference later in the day about the “red line” remark and what the implications would be if Russia crossed it, Borrell responded cautiously.
“I am going to use language more in line with diplomacy,” he said in Spanish. “It would be a substantive event, an important event that, naturally, would force us to make an evaluation of its consequences.”
“But, for the moment, such a thing has not occurred,” he said.
On Sunday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told CNN’s “State of the Union” that if China were to provide “lethal support” for Russia’s invasion, “that would be a red line.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who also met with Wang on the sidelines of the Munich conference, told several Sunday shows that the U.S. has information indicating that China is considering providing lethal aid to Moscow for its war.
Blinken said he had warned Wang that doing so “would have serious consequences in our relationship.”
He did not say what those consequences would entail, although in his interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” he noted that in response to Iran’s provision of lethal aid to Russia – combat drones in that instance – the administration has been “working to expose that, to take action against it, to sanction it.”
Beijing has pushed back at the accusations, maintaining that its stance on the “Ukraine issue” has been one of supporting a peaceful resolution.
“It is the U.S., not China, that has been pouring weapons into the battlefield,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday. “The U.S. is in no position to tell China what to do. We would never stand for finger-pointing, or even coercion and pressurizing from the U.S. on our relations with Russia.“
Wang Wenbin said Beijing would mark the anniversary of the start of the “Ukraine crisis” by issuing a position paper outlining its view on “seeking political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.”
While presenting itself as being in favor of “peace” and “dialogue,” China has refrained from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and in five U.N. General Assembly resolutions last year critical of the Russian invasion, it voted “no” twice and abstained three times.
Alicja Bachulska, a Warsaw-based China analyst and policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said on Monday China shares Russia’s worldview relating to the conflict.
“From Beijing’s perspective Russia’s war in Ukraine is not a Russian war of aggression against Ukraine but it’s rather a proxy war between the U.S.-led international order and the authoritarian powers such as Russia and China,” she told Germany’s Deutsche Welle.
As for China’s “position paper,” Bachulska said it amounts to a recycling of proposals put forward by President Xi Jinping last March.
“What China is putting on the table is actually not a peace plan, but according to the Chinese readout this is China’s position on the ‘political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.’”
Noting that Beijing talks about the “crisis” rather than the Russian “invasion” or “war against Ukraine,” she added that China’s reference to a “political settlement” also implies that concessions must be made to Russia.
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