Washington DC – The United States (US) accuses China of considering providing lethal support to Russia in its war in Ukraine . Beijing quickly dismissed Washington’s accusations.
But if the US accusations are true, and China is genuinely backing Russia, experts say the move could be a game changer in the year-long war in Ukraine.
Here are some key questions about Washington’s accusations against Beijing and their implications, as reported by AFP , Wednesday (22/2/2023):
What is really behind US claims and accusations?
Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, China has offered diplomatic and financial support to President Vladimir Putin, but has refrained from overt military involvement or shipping supplies of lethal weapons.
The Beijing-controlled company has been selling non-lethal drones and other equipment to Russia and Ukraine. Washington believes this will change and Minister of Foreign Affairs Antony Blinken expressed US concerns to the public on Sunday (19/2).
“Based on the information we have… They (China-red) are considering providing lethal support,” Blinken claimed.
No evidence was provided by Blinken to back up his claim, but it followed a US pattern of releasing sensitive information to disrupt Russia’s war plans.
“The fact that Blinken chose to raise these concerns publicly indicates that the US has strong intelligence,” said Richard McGregor, senior research fellow for East Asia at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, in his analysis.
Beijing did not comment directly on the alleged private deliberations, but accused Washington of “spreading false information” and “shifting the blame”.
Why is the US worried?
During the war, Russia was known to struggle in gathering sufficient numbers of military personnel, as well as ammunition and weapons to defeat the fierce resistance put up by Ukraine. Even Putin was forced to deploy a program of military mobility, mercenaries and arms imports.
Ukraine on the other hand managed to stop the attack of Russian troops and even outperformed it. But some experts believe the war is now at a turning point, with each side demanding more resources and eyeing huge profits as winter turns to spring.
Assessing the situation, strategist Mick Ryan who is also a retired Australian Army Major General told AFP that the flow of Chinese weapons to Russia would be a ‘game changer’.
“This is a war on the industrial system. Currently, Russia cannot compete with the West. If China comes, any advantage that Ukraine gets because of Western industrial capacity will disappear instantly,” Ryan said in his analysis.
“The (Chinese) ammunition will make life very difficult for Ukraine, whether it is artillery ammunition, or precision ammunition, or long-range strike weapons that Russia is currently running out of,” he added.
Why did China want to get involved in the Russia-Ukraine war?
Chinese military observer Song Zhongping has insisted Beijing will not send weapons. But he also noted that political, trade and military cooperation between China and Russia was deep before the war in Ukraine and would continue.
“China will not listen to the demands of the United States. China will strengthen cooperation with Russia according to its national resolve and national security concerns,” Song stressed.
But many pundits believe there is a bigger game to come. Experts also see that the war in Ukraine could become a proxy conflict like during the last Cold War.
Beijing’s decision to export arms to Russia, according to Alexey Muraviev, professor of security studies and strategy at Curtin University in Perth, would be a “major step” that risks being hit by Western sanctions, cutting ties with Washington and even Europe.
Muraviev believes the prospect of Russia’s defeat in Ukraine is deeply worrying for China, given that Moscow is the only major power backing Beijing. “If Russia loses in Ukraine politically or militarily, China will be left alone,” he said.
But on the other hand, continued Muraviev, Russia’s victory would mean ‘inflicting a strategic defeat for the United States’. That would help revive President Xi Jinping’s narrative of the West in decline — an idea undermined by Moscow’s military setback in Ukraine.
Apart from that, Muraviev also believes China may be trying to balance the risks and rewards in Ukraine by supplying weapons through state-controlled companies. through North Korea (North Korea) or to the Wagner Group mercenary group rather than directly to the Russian military.
“I think their approach will be more covert,” he said.
Source: Detik news