‘Very big mistake’: NATO chief cautions China over supplying weapons to Russia

Опубликовано: Friday, 24 February 2023 10:57

Stoltenberg was responding to signs that China could be considering military aid for Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday sent a public warning to Beijing: Don’t send weapons to Russia.

“On the question of supplies of military support from China to Russia, we have not seen any actual delivery of lethal aid,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference in the Estonian capital Tallinn on the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

But, he added, “What we have seen are signs and indications that China may be planning and considering to supply military aid to Russia.” Recent U.S. intelligence indicates this may be the case.

“China should not do that,” Stoltenberg added, “because that will be to support an illegal war of aggression, breaching international law and violating the U.N. Charter.”

Speaking alongside Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the NATO chief said that the alliance is closely monitoring China’s activities.

China sending lethal aid to Moscow, Stoltenberg cautioned, would be a “very big mistake — this is very serious.”

“The United States and other allies have conveyed so clearly that this should not happen.”

Both Stoltenberg and von der Leyen also expressed skepticism about a 12-point position paper released by China on a “political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.”

Beijing, the NATO secretary-general said, “doesn’t have much credibility, because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine.” Just days before the invasion, he noted, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement on “limitless partnership.”

The Commission president, meanwhile, framed the Chinese proposal as “not a peace plan, but principles that they shared.”

“We will look at the principles of course,” von der Leyen said, “but we will look at them against the backdrop that China has taken sides.”

Stoltenberg and von der Leyen traveled to Tallinn to mark Estonia’s independence day, as well as show support to the eastern flank one year to the day of the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

During the visit, Estonian Prime Minister Kallas — who is preparing for a parliamentary election on March 5 — reiterated a push for EU joint procurement of weapons for Ukraine.

In terms of a mechanism, the European Peace Facility has been coming up in recent conversations regarding joint ammunition purchases.

“We will turn to joint procurement to deliver urgent military supplies for Ukraine,” von der Leyen said without providing further details on the mechanism for procurement, adding that “equally important is to work with our defense industry to ramp up the production.”

“Dear Kaja, you rightly so brought attention to this at the last European Council,” the Commission president said, “and we are taking action.”

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