- China may try to send lethal aid to Russia “without getting caught,” a source told NBC News.
- Warnings of escalation come on the heels of Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s meeting with China.
- Blinken warned “about the implications” of sending lethal aid, the State Department said.
US officials are expressing concerns that China won’t toe the line and will end up sending lethal aid to support Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, on Saturday in the midst of the Munich Security Conference, to reiterate warnings the Biden administration has sent to Beijing since the outset of the war.
“We’re very concerned that China is considering providing lethal support to Russia in its aggression against Ukraine and I made clear that that would have serious consequences in our relationship,” Blinken said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” set to air on Sunday.
US officials behind the scenes appear to share the same concerns.
A source familiar with the intelligence on China told NBC News that the country is trying “to creep up to the line without getting caught.”
CNN has also spoken with US officials who said there were “disturbing” trends that signal China’s support for Russia, though they did not specify what they were, according to the report.
“On Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, the Secretary [of State] warned about the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia or assistance with systemic sanctions evasion,” according to the Department of State’s report on the meeting.
A National Security Council spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
The New York Times reported Blinken also said during the “Meet the Press” interview that the US will soon reveal information showing Beijing is strongly considering sending lethal aid.
President Joe Biden has previously warned Xi Jinping, China’s leader, against sending “material support” to Russia early in March of last year, just weeks after Russia began its offense against Ukraine.
As the conflict in Ukraine reaches its one-year anniversary, Biden’s cabinet is circling the same warnings.
Vice President Kamala Harris said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that “any steps by China to provide lethal support to Russia would only reward aggression, continue the killing, and further undermine a rules-based order.”
US officials believe China may have sent tangible support to Russia in the form of non-lethal military aid, according to the NBC News report. The officials declined to detail what kind of support China may have provided but said it could include material for the expected spring offensive, such as uniforms or body armor, the outlet reported.
Russia already relies on China-made equipment to support its offense against Ukraine. According to The Wall Street Journal, small, civilian drones from Da-Jiang Innovations Science & Technology, a China-based company known as DJI, continue to be used to better target Ukrainian forces. In a statement to The Journal, DJI said it opposes the use of drones on the battlefield but that its products “can be purchased in e-commerce stores and stores in many countries.”
“We cannot prevent users or organizations from purchasing in countries or regions other than Russia and Ukraine, and then transship or gift them to Russia and Ukraine,” the company told the newspaper.