NATO just accused China of enabling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the first time

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NATO just accused China of enabling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the first time

NATO accused China of enabling Russia’s war in Ukraine and urged it to cease support.

It said China had supplied Russia with weapon components, bypassing Western sanctions.

China said NATO had a “Cold War mentality” and “belligerent rhetoric.”

NATO on Wednesday accused China of being “a decisive enabler of Russia’s war against Ukraine” and demanded that it stop aiding Moscow’s military or face the consequences.

In the alliance’s Washington Summit declaration, published before a White House dinner with its leader, it called on China “to cease all material and political support to Russia’s war effort.”

The declaration, the first of its kind, said China had been a major supplier of weapon components and defense equipment to Russia since the start of the war.

It included an implicit threat. “The PRC cannot enable the largest war in Europe in recent history without this negatively impacting its interests and reputation,” the declaration said.

Natalie Sabanadze, a senior research fellow at Chatham House in London, told The New York Times she expected European countries to “start sanctioning Chinese companies slowly, while carefully weighing consequences and a potential backlash.”

She added that NATO’s warning “tells China that there will be costs.”

The strongest rebuke yet

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, described the language as the “strongest message NATO allies have ever sent on China’s contributions to Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine.”

NATO and the US believe China has supplied Russia with equipment such as chips and integrated circuits, which can be used to produce weapons. In response, China has said it is not a party to the Ukraine war and that there should be no interference with trade between China and Russia.

China hit back at the latest accusations, describing them as “prejudice, smears and provocation.” It added that NATO had a “Cold War mentality” and “belligerent rhetoric.”

Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jin said “NATO hyped up China’s responsibility” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Reuters.

“It makes no sense and comes with malicious intent,” Lin said.

“We urge NATO to reflect on the root cause of the crisis and what it has done, and take concrete action to de-escalate rather than shift blame.”

A shift in NATO’s stance

The declaration marks a key shift in NATO’s stance on China. As The New York Times reported, the alliance used bland language when discussing issues or concerns surrounding China in the past. It first named the country as a concern in 2019.

European countries have historically been hesitant to stand against Beijing, known for its distribution of luxury items and cars, The Times reported.

But the language surrounding China has subtly evolved.

Last week, NATO member and Finland’s President Alexander Stubb said in an interview with Bloomberg that China has so much influence on Russia that it could effectively end the war.

“I argue that Russia is so dependent on China right now that one phone call from President Xi Jinping would solve this crisis,” Stubb said.”If he were to say, ‘Time to start negotiating peace.’ Russia would be forced to do that.”

“They would have no other choice,” he added.

Jake Sullivan, a national security advisor to President Biden, said the NATO declaration shows that its members “now collectively understand this challenge,” according to The Times.

“If this PRC support continues, it will degrade its relations across Europe, and the United States will continue to impose sanctions on PRC entities involved in this activity, in coordination with our European allies,” he added.

Meanwhile, NATO pledged to continue to provide long-term security to Ukraine.

According to the declaration, NATO members have collectively contributed €40 billion, or around $43.4 billion, in military aid to Ukraine each year since the war began in February 2022. The alliance said it aims to contribute the same amount in 2024.

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