EU top diplomat says China will cross ‘red line’ if it sends arms to Russia
Beijing is considering providing ‘lethal assistance’ to Russia, US secretary of state says.
BRUSSELS — It would be a “red line” for the European Union if China sends arms to Russia, the EU’s foreign policy chief said Monday.
Josep Borrell’s warning came two days after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed “deep concern” that China was considering providing potentially “lethal assistance” to Russia for its war against Ukraine.
Recalling a meeting he held on Saturday with top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi, Borrell told reporters: “I expressed our strong concern about China providing arms to Russia. I asked him not to do that, and expressing not only our concern, but the fact that for us, it would be a red line in our relationship.
“He told me that they’re not going to do it, that they don’t plan to do it,” Borrell said, adding: “But we will remain vigilant.”
Other EU foreign ministers attending a Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels also warned Beijing not to cross that line.
“If such a decision is taken [by China] it will definitely have consequences, of course,” Tobias Billström, foreign minister of Sweden, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, said. “We stand side by side with the United States on that message.”
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said the EU would be on the same page as the U.S. should Chinese arms end up in Russian hands.
“There were those who expected the West … not to be united when it came to the Russian attack on Ukraine, but we were united. So I would think that, drawing from this lesson, there would be enough arguments for China not to assist Russia in its genocidal war in Ukraine,” Landsbergis said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also urged China to remain “pragmatic.”
“I personally have appealed to the Chinese leadership through direct channels and publicly not to offer any support to the Russians in this war. My hope is that Beijing will maintain a pragmatic attitude, because otherwise we are risking World War III, I think they are well aware of that,” he said in an interview with Italian media. “Our relationship with China has always been excellent, we have had intense economic relations for many years, and it is in everyone’s interest that they do not change.”
Chinese state-owned defense companies were found to be shipping navigation equipment, jamming technology and jet-fighter parts to sanctioned Russian government-owned defense companies, Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month.
Nicolas Camut contributed reporting.