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China denies supplying Russia with weapons for use in Ukraine

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 31, 2024 12:16 PM 3 min read
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin prepare for a group photo with other leaders at the Third Belt and Road Forum on Oct. 18, 2023 in Beijing, China. (Suo Takekuma/Pool/Getty Images)
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China has denied it is supplying Russia with arms to use in Ukraine, insisting it does not provide either side with weapons and has an "impartial position" on the war, a Chinese spokesperson said on May 31.

The spokesperson was referring to Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun's claim made during a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Singapore, AFP reports.

"We have honored our commitment not to provide weapons to either side of the conflict. In accordance with laws and regulations, we have implemented strict controls on exports of military items," the spokesperson said.

The denial comes after the U.S. accused China of giving Russia "every support behind the scenes" towards its war in Ukraine, describing its actions as "destabilizing in the heart of Europe."

Speaking to reporters on a visit to Brussels on May 29, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said NATO and European countries need to send "a collective message of concern to China about its actions."

"What we've seen from China to Russia is not a one-off or a couple of rogue firms involved in supporting Russia," Campbell said, adding: "This is a sustained, comprehensive effort that is backed up by the leadership in China that is designed to give Russia every support behind the scenes."

China officially declares itself a neutral party to Russia's full-scale war in Ukraine and has denied providing lethal aid, but Beijing and Moscow continue to develop closer ties, most recently with Russian President Vladimir Putin visiting his counterpart Xi Jinping earlier in May.

On May 22, U.K. Foreign Secretary Grant Shapps said he was declassifying new intelligence to reveal the "quite significant" development that the U.K. and U.S. had reports that "lethal aid is now, or will be, flowing from China to Russia and into Ukraine."

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan subsequently distanced himself from Shapps' assertion, saying that the U.S. had seen no evidence of it either in the past or "to date."

Although Sullivan declined to confirm Shapps' assertion, he did say that China is clearly providing weapons components to Russia, which the U.S. has "taken action to deal with."

It's not clear if Campbell's latest comments refer to the same intelligence or other information.

Also on May 31, it was reported China will not attend Ukraine's global peace summit next month.

The summit will take place on June 15-16 in Switzerland, and some 90 countries have already confirmed their participation as of this week. Ukraine invited China back in January.

Beijing declined the invitation as the terms they required to attend were not met, Reuters reported, citing several sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

One source said China had insisted the summit should be recognised by both Russia and Ukraine and both countries should participate.

Publicly, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that attending would be "difficult" as the "arrangement of the meeting still falls short of China's requirements."

China won’t attend Ukraine’s global peace summit, Reuters reports, citing sources
One source said China had insisted the summit should be recognised by both Russia and Ukraine and both countries should participate.

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