Volodimir Zelensky: “If China allies with Russia, there will be a world war”

Volodimir Zelensky (AFP) (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD /)

Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky warned China on Monday against supporting Russia in its war against Ukraine, saying doing so would spark a world war.

“It is important for us that China does not support the Russian Federation in this war. In fact, I would like him to be on our side,” Zelensky told the German newspaper Die Welt. “At the moment, however, I don’t think it’s possible.”

“But I do see an opportunity for China to make a pragmatic assessment of what is happening here,” he added. “Because if China allies with Russia, there will be a world war, and I think China is aware of that”.

Nearly a year after Russia invaded Ukraine, new questions are being raised about China’s possible willingness to offer military aid to Moscow in the deepening conflict.

In an interview aired on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said US intelligence suggests China is considering providing weapons and ammunition to Russia, an involvement in the Kremlin’s war effort that he says , would be a “serious problem”.

Antony Blinken, head of US diplomacy (via Reuters)
Antony Blinken, head of US diplomacy (via Reuters) (POOL /)

For its part, the European Union added on Monday that if China supplies Russia with weapons, it will cross “a red line” in the relationship with Brussels.

The Xi Jinping regime came out to deny the versions. But China maintains a position that claims to be pacifist but remains ambiguous: it has refused to criticize Russia’s actions or even call them an invasion in deference to Moscow. At the same time, it insists that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations must be upheld.

The question now is whether China is willing to turn that rhetorical support into material support.

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused the United States of “fanning the flames and fanning the clashes” by providing Ukraine with defensive weapons, saying that Beijing “will never accept (the United States) pointing with finger and even coerce and pressure in China-Russia relations.”


About the Russian invasion China has tried to walk a fine and often contradictory line.

China claims that NATO’s eastward expansion provoked Russia’s action. Just a few weeks before the invasion on February 24, 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping received Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing for the opening of the Winter Olympics, at which time both sides issued a joint declaration in which they promised to maintain a friendship “without limits”. Since then, China has shrugged off Western criticism and reaffirmed that commitment.

But China has yet to confirm the visit that Putin has said he expects from Xi this spring.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping (Sputnik/Reuters)
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping (Sputnik/Reuters) (SPUTNIK/)

China is “trying to have it both ways,” Blinken said on Sunday at the nbc. “Publicly, they present themselves as a country that is fighting for peace in Ukraine, but privately, as I have said, we have already seen in recent months the provision of non-lethal assistance that does go directly to aid and abet Russia’s war effort..”


So far, China’s support for Russia has been rhetorical and political, with Beijing helping to impede efforts to condemn Moscow at the United Nations.

Blinken, at a security conference in Munich, Germany, said that the US has long been concerned that China would supply Russia with weapons and that “we have information that gives us concern that they are considering providing lethal support to Russia in the war against Ukraine. That came a day after Blinken held talks with Wang Yi, the Chinese Communist Party’s top foreign policy official, in a meeting that offered little sign of easing tensions or progress on the Ukraine issue.

“It was important for me to share very clearly with Wang Yi that this would be a serious problemBlinken said, referring to possible military support for Russia.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield also expressed concern about any effort by the Chinese to arm Russia, saying “that would be a red line.”

Russian and Chinese forces have carried out joint military exercises since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, and more recently ships were sent to participate in exercises with the South African Navy on a key shipping lane off the South African coast.


“It is the United States that continues to supply weapons to the battlefield, not China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Monday. “The principle that China follows on the Ukraine issue can simply be expressed as promoting peace talks.”

Following the meeting between Wang Yi and Blinken, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement stating that it has always played a constructive role in the Ukraine conflict by adhering to principles, fostering peace and promoting of the conversations.

The ministry said that the China-Russia partnership “is established on the basis of non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-attacking of third parties,” and that the United States was adding “fuel to the fire to seize the opportunity for profit.”

Beijing claims it has maintained a normal business relationship with Russia, which includes oil and gas purchases, as have other countries such as India. That trade is seen as an economic lifeline for Moscow, but there have been no documented cases where China has provided direct aid to the Russian military, such as the low-cost military drones that Iran sells to Moscow..


There would be “real consequences…if China provided lethal aid to Russia” or helped Moscow circumvent sanctions “systematically,” Blinken said Monday in Turkey’s capital Ankara. He did not specify what steps Washington would take in response to Chinese military support for Russia, but said other countries would join the United States in similar actions.

Efforts to put a bottom under ties that have deteriorated to their lowest level in decades have so far been unsuccessful. The United States has attempted to limit China’s access to the latest microprocessors and manufacturing equipment, and has continued to challenge Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea.

For China, the most sensitive issue is US support for Taiwan, the autonomous island democracy that Beijing considers its own territory that it can conquer by military force if it deems necessary. Taiwan is a major customer for US defensive weaponry and has played host to a growing number of prominent US elected officials, angering Beijing.

Meanwhile, US lawmakers have called for a ban on TikTok and other Chinese-owned social media platforms, as well as increased sanctions on Chinese companies backed by the Communist Party, which exercises ultimate control over the Chinese economy and suppresses independent media and the voices of the political opposition.

(With information from Reuters and AP)

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