As Russian troops appeared to stall in their advance on Ukrainian cities, the United States voiced concern on Thursday that China might assist Moscow with military equipment as the war entered its fourth week.
Ukraine’s capital Kyiv came under renewed Russian shelling as rescuers in the besieged port of Mariupol dug survivors from the rubble of bombed buildings. Officials from the two countries met again for peace talks but said their positions remained far apart.
Western sources and Ukrainian officials said Russia’s assault has faltered since its troops invaded on Feb. 24, further dashing Moscow’s expectations of a swift victory and the removal of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government.
Despite battleground setbacks and punitive sanctions by the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little sign of relenting. His government says it is counting on China to help Russia withstand blows to its economy.
The United States, which this week announced $800 million in new military aid to Kyiv, is concerned that Beijing is “considering directly assisting Russia with military equipment to use in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
President Joe Biden will make clear to China’s President Xi Jiping in a call Friday that Beijing “will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia’s aggression, and we will not hesitate to impose costs,” Blinken told reporters.
While the United States says it wants to avoid direct confrontation with Russia, Chinese military aid to Moscow would pit Washington and Beijing — the world’s two biggest powers — on opposite sides of the largest assault on a European state since World War Two.