News & Insights

By Ellen Nakashima, Karen DeYoung and Cate Cadell, March 13, 2022

As originally appeared in Washington Post.

The development comes as White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan plans to travel to Rome on Monday to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi.

“We are communicating directly, privately to Beijing, that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions, evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them,” Sullivan told CNN.

A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, Liu Pengyu, said he was not aware of any such request for assistance. “I’ve never heard of that,” he said in an email to The Washington Post.

Russian missiles killed at least 35 people and injured at least 134 on March 13 at military facilities near Ukraine’s border with Poland. (Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

“China is deeply concerned and grieved on [the] Ukraine situation,” he said. “We support and encourage all efforts that are conducive to a peaceful settlement of the crisis. The high priority now is to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even getting out of control.”

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, speaking Sunday in a television interview, noted that part of Moscow’s gold and foreign exchange reserves were in Chinese currency, Reuters reported. “And we see what pressure is being exerted by Western countries on China in order to limit mutual trade.”

“But I think that our partnership with China will still allow us to maintain the cooperation that we have achieved, and not only maintain, but also increase it in an environment where Western markets are closing.”

While Sullivan, who spoke on several Sunday talk shows, focused his remarks on economic aid and sanctions evasion, the officials said that Russia is running low on certain types of weapons. They declined to specify which kinds.

“If Beijing is offering any type of military assistance to aid Moscow’s war in Ukraine, the spillover effects on U.S.-China policy could be vast,” said Eric Sayers, a former adviser to the U.S. Indo Pacific Command and now senior vice president at Beacon Global Strategies.

“It would abruptly end debate about pathways to working with Beijing. More importantly, it would push Washington to accelerate retaliatory and decoupling actions toward China, and create new pressure on companies now doing business in China,” Sayers said.

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