New intelligence suggests China is considering sending artillery and ammunition to Russia, according to three US officials familiar with the matter.
The officials did not say what specific evidence they had to support the intelligence, which was confirmed to NBC News by a former US official and a Western official briefed on the matter, and originally reported by The Wall Street Journal was done.
NBC News has contacted China’s foreign ministry for comment about the revelations, which come after Beijing put forward a 12-point peace plan on Friday – the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It called on both countries to agree on a gradual de-escalation, keep nuclear facilities secure, establish humanitarian corridors, and stop attacks on civilian populations.
Earlier this month China hit back at US allegations that it could provide non-lethal military aid to Moscow, asking Washington to stay out of its ties with the Kremlin.
This “could be an important development” if China decides to provide arms to Russia, Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a Philadelphia-based think tank, said on Twitter.
He added that “the availability of artillery ammunition for Ukraine and Russia is arguably the most important variable that could affect the course of the war.”
However, Phillips O’Brien, a professor of strategic studies at the UK’s University of St Andrews, said it would be a “strange choice” if China decided to supply ammunition to Russia.
It was not clear whether it would “make a big difference,” he said on Twitter, adding that it would “severely erode relations with China’s largest customer group” in the US and Europe.
The Chinese expected the delivery of ammunition to be perceived as a “limited” form of aid, drawing a “limited response” was a “risky presumption”, he said.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday he wanted to meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to discuss Beijing’s proposals to end the conflict after China unveiled its peace plan.
“China historically respects our territorial integrity, and therefore it should do everything for Russia to leave the territory of Ukraine,” he told a news conference, adding that he believes Xi The meeting “will benefit security in our countries and in the world.”
He did not say whether a meeting with Xi had been arranged or gave any indication of when it might happen, but insisted that his main goal was to ensure that China did not supply arms to Russia. Was.
President Joe Biden and European leaders appeared skeptical about Beijing’s proposals.
Biden told ABC News on Friday that the idea was “not rational,” adding that he “didn’t see anything in the plan to indicate that would be beneficial to anyone other than Russia.”
Speaking at a news conference in Estonia on Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said China “doesn’t have much credibility because they haven’t been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine.”
At the same news conference, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said European leaders would look to Chinese principles for peace “against the background that China has already taken sides.”
Eric Bakulinao Contribution,