US wary of Chinese drone shipments to support Russia in Ukraine

A senior Republican legislator mentioned that China was contemplating sending 100 drones and different deadly weapons to Russia, as US officers warn that Beijing could escalate its help for Moscow within the Ukraine battle.

Michael McCaul, the highest Republican on the Home international affairs committee, mentioned the US was more and more involved about Beijing’s willingness to escalate its backing for Moscow in its year-long invasion of Ukraine, forward of an anticipated assembly between Russia’s chief Vladimir Putin and his Chinese language counterpart Xi Jinping subsequent week.

The information {that a} Chinese language firm was in talks to produce Russia with drones was first reported by Der Spiegel.

“Now we have intelligence that’s been reported that they’re considering sending 100 drones into Russia. We additionally know they’re shopping for all their power from them, economically supporting them,” McCaul mentioned in an interview with the information community ABC.

McCaul mentioned Beijing was additionally taking a look at sending in “different deadly weapons”.

“The truth that they’re going to satisfy subsequent week, Chairman Xi and Putin, to debate this unholy alliance that they’ve, to place weapons into Ukraine, to me could be very disturbing as a result of whereas perhaps Ukraine right now, it’s going to be Taiwan tomorrow.”

Whereas the US beforehand believed that China was reluctant to supply deadly help to Russia in its combat with Ukraine, that evaluation has modified this month following new data, CIA director William Burns mentioned.

In response, US officers have stepped up their public warnings to China in regards to the potential penalties of such a transfer — a message they’ve additionally conveyed to Chinese language counterparts in back-channel conferences, based on a number of US officers.

Whereas the US has alleged that Beijing is offering non-lethal help to Russia within the battle, resembling satellite tv for pc imagery to assist goal Ukrainian weapons, the addition of drones would mark a critical escalation of China’s involvement within the battle. This month, US secretary of state Antony Blinken mentioned Beijing was contemplating offering Moscow with deadly help, together with weapons and ammunition, however didn’t present particulars.

On Sunday, Burns mentioned in an interview with CBS that the US was “assured” that the Chinese language management had been contemplating “the availability of deadly tools”. However he mentioned that Beijing had not made a last choice and that there had been no proof, to date, of “precise shipments of deadly tools”.

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s nationwide safety adviser, has sought to mood the issues. In a number of interviews on Sunday, he famous that China had made no shipments to Russia. Sullivan mentioned the US would proceed to utilise “the personal high-level diplomatic channels” it had established to warn Beijing of the implications of offering Moscow with any deadly assist, because it had throughout Blinken’s assembly in Munich final week with Wang Yi, China’s high diplomat.

“We’ll watch fastidiously, we will likely be vigilant, and we are going to proceed to ship a powerful message,” Sullivan instructed CNN. “We’ve actually made very clear the seriousness of the implications for our relationship, and I believe for China’s relationship with our European allies as nicely.”

Sullivan added: “Beijing should make its personal choices about the way it proceeds, whether or not it supplies army help. However, if it goes down that street, it’s going to come at actual prices to China.”

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