World Politics

U.S. officials believe China may be providing Russia non-lethal military assistance in Ukraine war

Courtney Kube
A Ukrainian serviceman of an artillery unit throws an empty shell as soldiers fire toward Russian positions on the outskirts of Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, on Dec. 30, 2022.
Sameer Al-doumy | Afp | Getty Images

The U.S. believes China may be providing non-lethal military assistance to Russia for use in Ukraine, according to four U.S. officials, and the administration is concerned they are considering sending lethal aid.

While China has provided some help to Russia, including parroting Russian disinformation campaigns about the war, this is more tangible assistance for use by Russian troops in Ukraine.

The officials declined to provide specifics about the non-lethal military assistance, but said it could include gear for the spring offensive like uniforms or even body armor. 

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A spokesperson for National Security Council declined to comment.

U.S. officials, including President Joe Biden and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, have warned China not to supply Russia with military assistance or there would be consequences.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Wang Yi are both at the Munich Security Conference today, but have not yet met today.

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the Conference Saturday and said China has grown closer to Russia since the war began.

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It's not clear if the support violates any sanctions, the officials said, or if the U.S. would impose sanctions or costs on China for this support.