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Biden threatens Xi with ‘consequences’ if China helps Russia’s war in Ukraine

President Joe Biden participates in a conference phone call with governors affected by the snow storm, from the Oval Office, Feb. 16, 2021, in Washington. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
March 18, 2022

President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese leader Xi Jinping by phone on Friday in which Biden warned Xi of “consequences” if China decided to provide material support to Russia for its war on Ukraine.

In a background call attended by American Military News, a senior administration official said, “President Biden made clear the implication and consequences of China providing material support — if China were to provide material support — to Russia as it prosecutes its brutal war in Ukraine, not just for China’s relationship with the United States but for the wider world.”

The official said Biden didn’t request any specific action from China, but rather laid out implications and consequences of certain actions.

A White House readout of Biden’s call with Xi also said the president “described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia as it conducts brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians.”

In a press briefing on Friday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to list potential consequences China could face if they choose to provide material support to Russia.

“We have a range of tools that could be considered, and sanctions are certainly one tool in the toolbox,” Psaki said when asked if sanctions were one consideration.

Psaki said any sign of China moving closer to align with Russia is “of great concern” to the administration, as well as members of the G7 alliance.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced citing U.S. officials who said Russia had requested military and economic support from China for its war in Ukraine. CNN later reported those Russian requests included food for its troops.

U.S. officials declined to specify what types of military equipment Russia is requesting, with one citing the need to protect their methods of information collection.

Before Biden’s call with Xi on Friday, the U.S. had already warned China against sharing economic support for Russia’s invasion.

“We are communicating directly, privately to Beijing that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN in an interview Sunday.

When asked on two separate occasions on whether Russia had requested aid from China, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lijian Zhao refused to confirm or deny, instead claiming the U.S. had been “spreading disinformation.”

Zhao insisted that China was maintaining a position of peace and promoting peace talks.