The European Union has warned that China would be crossing a "red line" if the country sends weapons to Russia. The comments came ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with a top Chinese diplomat, in which he expressed a desire for deeper strategic cooperation between the two countries.
"I expressed our strong concern about China providing arms to Russia. I asked him not to do that, and expressing not only our concern, but the fact that for us, it would be a red line in our relationship," said Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in regards to a meeting he had on Saturday with Chinese diplomat Wang Yi, according to Politico.
"He told me that they’re not going to do it, that they don’t plan to do it," Borrell said in the Monday comments, adding: "But we will remain vigilant."
During a Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, EU foreign ministers also warned China against crossing that line.
"If such a decision is taken [by China] it will definitely have consequences, of course," said Tobias Billström, foreign minister of Sweden. "We stand side by side with the United States on that message."
"There were those who expected the West … not to be united when it came to the Russian attack on Ukraine, but we were united. So I would think that, drawing from this lesson, there would be enough arguments for China not to assist Russia in its genocidal war in Ukraine," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged China to remain "pragmatic" and not to support Russia.
"I personally have appealed to the Chinese leadership through direct channels and publicly not to offer any support to the Russians in this war. My hope is that Beijing will maintain a pragmatic attitude, because otherwise we are risking World War III, I think they are well aware of that," he said in an interview with Italian media. "Our relationship with China has always been excellent, we have had intense economic relations for many years, and it is in everyone’s interest that they do not change."
The comments came just days before Putin also met with Yi, with the two expressing support of strengthened ties between the two countries.
According to the BBC, Yi vowed that relations between the two countries would not cave to pressure from other countries, and that the two countries are ready to "deepen a strategic cooperation."
Yi said that China is "ready to strengthen its partnership with Moscow in the interest of the two countries and the whole world," the BBC reported.
Putin said that relations between China and Russia are developing well, and that the two countries could reach new levels of trade this year.
Ahead of the meeting, Yi said that "thanks to the efforts" of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Putin, the relationship between the two countries is developing "in a highly dynamic way."
"Russia and China remain determined and committed to a multi-polar world with no hegemonies," Yi told Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.
Yi also stated that he would work to "strengthen and deepen" the relations between the two countries, and expects new agreements to be reached on Wednesday.
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