According to the New York Times, which quotes an unknown number of “U.S. officials” who were murky on details to preserve their intelligence gathering abilities within China, the request came alongside an economic request.
While the New York Times does not note whether China agreed to the request, it does note that Biden White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned China against “any future Chinese efforts to bolster Russia in its war or undercut Ukraine, the United States and their partners.”
The report that the Russian government asked China for what amounts to military aid in its offensive campaign comes as economic ties from the countries continue to grow stronger.
China was one of only a few nations which abstained from the United Nations condemnation of Russia, and is one of the few that has continued trading with Russia amid Western sanctions.
The Biden administration has sought to position China against Russia, and the release of this information through government officials to the New York Times and Financial Times could suggest a public relations attempt to force China to publicly come out against Russia.
China has strengthened its economic relationship with Russia in recent years, and after Russia was cut off from Western credit cards and payment processing systems in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine, the country began using China’s alternatives.
Chinese people also seem to be siding with Russians and Vladimir Putin over Ukrainians and Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to The Atlantic, users of Chinese social media view Russia’s offensive campaign against its neighbor as “a necessary step for resisting Western (and mainly U.S.) aggression.” Worse for the West, when a recent poll on Weibo, the Chinese alternative to Twitter, asked users what position China’s government should take on Ukraine, the majority said China should back Moscow.
As a silver lining, the most upvoted comments suggested the Chinese government should do whatever benefited Chinese people the most.
Meanwhile India, another nation which abstained from the United Nations vote to condemn Russia, has also signaled it will continue its relations with the country. Today it was revealed that India is finalizing its efforts to create an alternative payment system to continue trade with Moscow.
India appears to believe that Western sanctions will result in better prices for Indians, and a closer relationship between the two countries.
Russia invaded its neighbor last month after years of disagreement over the Donbass region. Russia claims it invaded to protect ethnic Russians in that region from Ukrainian state violence, while Ukraine and the international community say the invasion was completely unprovoked.