Sunday, June 26, 2022

As invasion of Ukraine continues, US warns China against helping Russia evade sanctions | CBC News

The US and China are sending top aides to Rome on Monday as tensions between the two countries mount over the Russia-Ukraine war and worries spread that the conflict will take even darker turns.

In advance of the talks, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan bluntly warned China to avoid helping Russia evade punishment from global sanctions that have hammered the Russian economy. “We will not allow that to go forward,” he said.

US officials are also accusing China of spreading Russian disinformation that could be a pretext for chemical or biological weapons attacks launched by Vladimir Putin’s forces in Ukraine.

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put China in a delicate spot with two of its biggest trading partners: the US and European Union. China needs access to those markets, yet it has also made gestures supportive of Moscow, joining with Russia in declaring a friendship with “no limits.”

In his talks with senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi, Sullivan will indeed be looking for limits in what Beijing will do for Moscow.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, left, and senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi are set to speak in Rome on Monday over the Russia-Ukraine war. (Manuel Balce Ceneta, Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press)

“I’m not going to sit here publicly and brandish threats,” he told CNN in a round of Sunday news show interviews. “But what I will tell you is we are communicating directly and privately to Beijing that there absolutely will be consequences” if China helps Russia ‘backfill’ its losses from the sanctions.

“We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country anywhere in the world.”

Chemical weapons claims

The White House said the talks will focus on the direct impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine on regional and global security.

Biden administration officials say Beijing is spreading false Russian claims that Ukraine was running chemical and biological weapons labs with US support. They say China is effectively providing cover if Russia moves ahead with a biological or chemical weapons attack on Ukrainians.

When Russia starts accusing other countries of preparing to launch biological or chemical attacks, Sullivan told NBC’s Meet the Press“it’s a good tell that they may be on the cusp of doing it themselves.”

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, on ABC’s This Weeksaid “we haven’t seen anything that indicates some sort of imminent chemical or biological attack right now, but we’re watching this very, very closely.”

As invasion of Ukraine continues, US warns China against helping Russia evade sanctions | CBC News
Ukrainian soliders are seen in Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on Sunday. (Dimitar Dilkoff /AFP/Getty Images)

The striking US allegations about Russian disinformation and Chinese complicity came after Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova alleged with no evidence that the US was financing Ukrainian chemical and biological weapons labs.

The Russian claim was echoed by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, who claimed there were 26 bio-labs and related facilities in “which the US Department of Defense has absolute control.” The United Nations has said it has received no information backing up such allegations.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the claims “preposterous.”

WATCH | Russia accused of ‘false flag’ tactics on bioweapons claim,

As invasion of Ukraine continues, US warns China against helping Russia evade sanctions | CBC News

Russia accused of ‘false flag’ tactics over bioweapons claim about US, Ukraine

The United Nations says there’s no evidence to prove Russia’s claim that Ukraine ran biological warfare laboratories with US support. Ukraine expressed concern that Russia’s claim could be a ‘false flag’ tactic designed to allow the Kremlin to use its own biological weapons against Ukrainians. 2:03

“Now that Russia has made these false claims, and China has seemingly endorsed this propaganda, we should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or to create a false flag operation using them,” Psaki tweeted last week. “It’s a clear pattern.”

Sullivan told Face the Nation on CBS that the Russian rhetoric on chemical and biological warfare is “an indicator that, in fact, the Russians are getting ready to do it and try and pin the blame elsewhere and nobody should fall for that.”

The international community for years has assessed that Russia has used chemical weapons in carrying out assassination attempts against Putin detractors such as Alexei Navalny and former spy Sergei Skripal. Russia also supports the Assad government in Syria, which has used chemical weapons against its people in a decade-long civil war.

WATCH | What happened in Week 3 of Russia’s assault in Ukraine:

As invasion of Ukraine continues, US warns China against helping Russia evade sanctions | CBC News

What happened in Week 3 of Russia’s assault in Ukraine: Mariupol hospital bombed, Kyiv tensions rise, refugees flee

WARNING: This video contains graphic images at 6:19. A Russian airstrike devastated a maternity hospital in Mariupol, and millions flee as Russia closes in on the capital. Here’s a look at what happened in Ukraine between March 7 and 11. 7:31

Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, CIA Director William Burns also noted grave concern that Russia might be laying the groundwork for a chemical or biological attack of its own, which it would then blame on the US or Ukraine in a false flag operation.

“This is something, as all of you know very well, is very much a part of Russia’s playbook,” he said. “They’ve used these weapons against their own citizens, they’ve at least encouraged the use in Syria and elsewhere, so it’s something we take very seriously.”

Beijing-Moscow relationship

China has been one of few countries to avoid criticizing the Russians for its invasion of Ukraine. China’s Xi Jinping hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin for the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, just weeks before Russia launched the Feb. 24 invasion.

During Putin’s visit to China last month, the two leaders issued a 5,000-word statement declaring limitless friendship.

The Chinese abstained on UN votes censoring Russia and has criticized economic sanctions against Moscow. It has expressed its support for peace talks and offered its services as a mediator, despite questions about its neutrality and scant experience mediating international conflict.

As invasion of Ukraine continues, US warns China against helping Russia evade sanctions | CBC News
Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin are seen prior to talks in Beijing on Feb. 4. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool/AP)

But questions remain over how far Beijing will go to alienate the alliance and put its own economy at risk. Sullivan said China and all countries are on notice that they cannot “basically bail Russia out… give Russia a workaround to the sanctions,” with impunity.

Chinese officials have said Washington shouldn’t be able to complain about Russia’s actions because the US invaded Iraq under false pretenses. The US claimed to have evidence Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction though none was ever found.

On CNN, Sullivan said the administration believes China knew that Putin “was planning something” before the invasion of Ukraine. But he said the Chinese government “may not have understood the full extent of it because it’s very possible that Putin lied to them the same way that he lied to Europeans and others.”

Sullivan and Yang last met for face-to-face talks in Switzerland, where Sullivan raised the Biden administration’s concerns about China’s military provocations against Taiwan, human rights abuses against ethnic minorities and efforts to squelch pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong.

That meeting set the stage for a three-hour long virtual meeting in November between Biden and Xi.

Sullivan is also to meet Luigi Mattiolo, diplomatic adviser to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, while in Rome.

Nation World News Desk
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