BRUSSELS: The EU’s foreign policy chief on Monday warned China against providing Russia weapons for its war on Ukraine, after Beijing dismissed US allegations that it was considering sending arms.
Josep Borrell said he told China’s top diplomat Wang Yi at a meeting over the weekend that “for us, it would be a red line in our relationship.”
“He told me that they are not going to do it, that they don’t plan to do it. But we will remain vigilant,” Borrell told journalists ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China was now “considering providing lethal support” to Moscow ranging “from ammunition to the weapons themselves”.
But China blasted the allegations as “false” and said it was Washington that was fuelling the conflict by arming Ukraine’s forces.
The 27-nation EU has sided firmly with Ukraine since Moscow launched its all-out invasion a year ago, providing Kyiv with weapons and financial aid worth billions of euros.
There has been widespread concern about Beijing’s deeping relationship with Moscow and its refusal to condemn the Kremlin’s aggression outright.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom warned that if China did start supplying arms to Russia then “it would definitely have consequences”.
“We need to pressure by all means also and give a warning to China that the international community will anyhow not accept it,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said.
While the EU issued warnings to Beijing, the bloc was also weighing up plans to try to speed up its production and delivery of much-needed ammunition to help Kyiv’s fight.
“We’ll do everything we can,” Borrell said. “This is the most urgent issue, if we fail on that then really the result of the war is in danger.”
Estonia has put forward a proposal for EU nations to club together to spend four billion euros (4.3 billion euros) to buy one million 155-millimetre shells for Ukraine.
Ukraine is estimated to be burning through thousands more shells each month than the EU defence industry is currently able to produce.