UK tells China not to send Putin weapons as Zelensky warns of World War III risk
Britain told China on Monday not to supply Vladimir Putin with weapons which Volodymyr Zelensky warned could spark World War III.
In a blunt message to Beijing, Downing Street said: “Any support for Putin’s brutal and illegal war against Ukraine is deplorable.
“We expect China to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Earlier, Ukrainian president Mr Zelensky warned China in a newspaper interview on Monday against supporting Russia in its war on Ukraine and said doing so would bring on a world war.
“For us, it is important that China does not support the Russian Federation in this war. In fact, I would like it to be on our side,” he told German daily Die Welt. “At the moment, however, I don’t think it’s possible.”
“But I do see an opportunity for China to make a pragmatic assessment of what is happening here,” he added. “Because if China allies itself with Russia, there will be a world war, and I do think that China is aware of that.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday warned Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi of consequences should China provide material support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He stressed that Washington was concerned Beijing was considering supplying weapons to Moscow.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has stood by Putin, resisting Western pressure to isolate Russia.
Chinese-Russian trade has soared since the invasion of Ukraine, and Russia has sold Asian powers including China greater volumes of oil.
Mr Wang said last week that Beijing would put forward “China’s position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis”.
He said Beijing remained on the side of peace and security.
He was expected to visit Moscow shortly and China told the United States on Monday to keep out of its relationship with Russia.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the planned visit by Mr Wang to Moscow but gave no date for the trip.
“We don’t rule out a meeting between Mr Wang and the president (Putin),” he said.
“The agenda is clear and very extensive, so there is lots to talk about.”
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 last year has triggered the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Tensions have also spiralled between the US, UK and their allies, and Beijing, over alleged Chinese spy balloons, Mr Xi’s increasingly expansionist foreign policy, and human rights abuses including against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province.