4 Mar 2023

EU warns China against supplying weapons to Russia

8:51 am on 4 March 2023
Russian President Vladimir Putin and China's President Xi Jinping hold talks in Beijing, China, 4 February 2022.

Photo: AFP / EyePress

It would be an absolute "red line" if China provided weapons to Russia, a senior European Union official said on Friday (local time), adding that the EU would respond with sanctions.

The comments echo remarks by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday warning Beijing against providing such aid to Moscow as it continues to fight in Ukraine.

"Don't deliver any weapons to the aggressor Russia," Scholz said in a speech to the German Parliament ahead of his meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington later on Friday.

Scholz and Biden are expected to discuss the ongoing conflict as well as China when they meet at the White House.

China has denied any intention to arm Russia.

More aid

The United States announced a new military aid package for Ukraine on Friday worth $400 million, primarily of ammunition, but for the first time will include tactical bridges to move tanks and armoured vehicles.

The bridges could be used by Ukrainian troops who have been training in "combined arms manoeuvre" warfare, which is the coordinated use of artillery shelling, alongside tank and armoured vehicle attack movements, to retake territory seized by Russian forces since they invaded Ukraine a year ago.

The additional ammunition is being sent to help boost stocks in anticipation of a spring offensive.

"Assault bridging is essential for combined arms operations. It allows armoured vehicles to cross narrow rivers and ditches that would otherwise cause a whole force to slow down," said Jack Watling, a senior research fellow for Land Warfare at the London-based Royal United Services Institute.

"Importantly, assault bridges are only critical for offensive operations showing that the US is preparing Ukraine to continue retaking its territory," Watling added.

In January, Germany agreed to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine and said it would work with allies to send more. German aid for Ukraine was expected to be a major topic when US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met at the White House on Friday. Several NATO allies have pledged a range of armoured fighting vehicles.

"This military assistance package includes more ammunition for US-provided HIMARS and howitzers, which Ukraine is using so effectively to defend itself, as well as ammunition for Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Armored Vehicle Launched Bridges, demolitions munitions and equipment, and other maintenance, training, and support," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in announcing the aid.

Anatoly Antonov, Russia's ambassador to Washington, said the US wanted to inflict a strategic defeat on Moscow but had no chance of succeeding, TASS news agency said.

"All foreign weapons that fall into Ukrainian hands on the battlefield will be ground up and destroyed," TASS quoted Antonov as saying.

The package will be funded using Presidential Drawdown Authority, or PDA, which authorises the president to transfer articles and services from US stocks without congressional approval during an emergency, Blinken said.

Overall, the United States has provided nearly US$32 billion in aid to Ukraine to defend itself against Russia, which invaded its pro-Western neighbour on February 24 last year.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced visit to Lviv, Ukraine, on Friday at the invitation of the Ukrainian prosecutor general, a Justice Department official said.

- Reuters