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China faces consequences for helping Russia evade sanctions over Ukraine – Sullivan

FILE PHOTO: Jake Sullivan, White House National Security Advisor, speaks to the news media about the situation in Ukraine during a daily news briefing at the White House in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks to the news media about the situation in Ukraine during a daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 11, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

March 13, 2022

By Andrea Schalal and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who is due to meet China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday, warned Beijing it would “absolutely” face consequences if it helped Moscow to take comprehensive measures to circumvent sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

Sullivan told CNN on Sunday the United States believes China is aware that Russia was planning action in Ukraine before the invasion took place, although Beijing may not have understood the full extent of what was planned.

Now, he said, Washington is closely watching the extent to which Beijing is providing economic or material support to Russia, and would take action if it did.

“We are communicating directly and privately with Beijing that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale efforts to circumvent sanctions or support Russia to fill them,” Sullivan said. “We will not allow this to proceed and allow Russia to receive a lifeline from these economic sanctions from any country, anywhere in the world.”

A senior Biden administration official said the war in Ukraine and its implications for regional and global security was a “significant issue” during Sullivan’s meeting with Yang, amid efforts by China to “join with Russia to secure its… advance their own vision of the world order.

The meeting, which has been planned for some time, is part of broader efforts by Washington and Beijing to maintain open channels of communication and manage competition between the world’s two largest economies, the official said.

No concrete results were expected from the meeting, the source added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Wang Huiyao, head of a Beijing think tank and adviser to the Chinese government, warned of “a spiral of escalation” in a column published in The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/13/opinion/china-russia- ukraine.html on Sunday, saying China is “uniquely positioned to act as a neutral mediator between a Western-backed Ukraine and Russia” to end the war.

“As unpalatable as some in the West may find the idea, it is time to offer the Russian leader an exit with China’s help,” Wang wrote.

The United States said on Saturday it would provide up to $200 million in additional weapons to Ukrainian forces as they try to defend against Russian shelling in the biggest war in Europe since World War II.

The Russian attack, which Moscow calls a “military special operation,” trapped thousands of civilians in besieged cities and 2.5 million Ukrainians fled to neighboring countries.

The United States and its allies have imposed sweeping, unprecedented sanctions on Russia and banned its energy imports, while channeling billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Individually and collectively, they have appealed to China, the Gulf States and others who have failed to condemn the Russian invasion to join in isolating Russia from the world economy.

Beijing, a key trading partner of Russia, has refused to call Russia’s actions an invasion, despite calls for “maximum restraint” in Ukraine by Chinese President Xi Jinping last week after a virtual meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Xi also expressed concern about the sanctions’ impact on global finances, energy supplies, transportation and supply chains amid growing evidence that Western sanctions are restricting China’s ability to buy Russian oil.

Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of China’s state-backed newspaper Global Times, said on Twitter: “If Sullivan thinks he can convince China to participate in sanctions against Russia, he will be disappointed.”

International Monetary Fund executive director Kristalina Georgieva said last week the crisis could also mean China misses its 5.5% growth target this year. She said she has spoken to China’s top central banker and expects increasing pressure on Russia to end the war.

During his stay in Rome, Sullivan will also meet with Luigi Mattiolo, diplomatic adviser to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, to further coordinate the strong global response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “war of choice,” the source said.

The United States and the Group of Seven’s advanced economies on Friday increased pressure on Russia by demanding the lifting of its trade status as “most favored nation,” which would allow them to increase tariffs on Russian goods.

Trade accounted for about 46% of Russia’s economy in 2020, much of it with China, its top export destination.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Michael Martina; additional reporting by Ismail Shakil; editing by Sandra Maler and Marguerita Choy)

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Bobby Allyn

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