In a highly convenient narrative for the Biden administration which seems somewhat dubious given the vagueness of the initial allegations against Beijing, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday that after Biden’s phone call to President Xi Jinping on Friday, the US has observed no further weapons transfers to Russia.
“I can’t make predictions going forward. What I can tell you is we have not seen since those meetings or since the President’s conversation with Xi, the provision of military equipment by China to Russia, but of course, this is something we are monitoring closely,” Sullivan told reporters in a briefing.
It begs the question: did the administration actually and definitively “see those meetings” in the first place? When the story first surfaced a little over a week ago, it was cast as a strong suspicion and not necessarily as “confirmation” that there was indeed active China-Russia cooperation regarding Ukraine, all based on the usual “anonymous intelligence” sources.
Sullivan added in the Tuesday remarks: “We will continue to monitor it. And the President made clear to President Xi the implications and consequences of any such provision of equipment and they very well understand.”
Both China and Russia have vehemently denied the allegations, which appeared centered on US intelligence saying that Russia had formally requested military equipment from China in order to urgently resupply its operation in Ukraine.
China was later reported to have responded “positively”; however, Beijing has called the Washington narrative a campaign based on “smears”.
During the Friday call, Biden informed Xi that there’d be “implications and consequences” if China were found to be aiding Russia either militarily or to evade Western sanctions related to the Ukraine invasion. But even the Friday White House call readout appeared to leave the allegation at the level of not yet complete and shrouded it in ambiguity, or as an ‘open question’.
Chinese state officials and media pundits have mocked the Washington allegations…
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) March 15, 2022