A senior Chinese official on Saturday blamed NATO for Russia’s assault on Ukraine and criticized western sanctions on Moscow.
In his remarks during a security and strategy forum China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said the root cause of the war in Ukraine “lies in the Cold War mentality of power politics,” and warned that if NATO’s “enlargement goes further, it would be approaching the ‘outskirts of Moscow’ where a missile could hit the Kremlin within seven or eight minutes.”
“Pushing a major country, especially a nuclear power, to the corner would entail repercussions too dreadful to contemplate,” he said.
Echoing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stance, Mr. Le said NATO should have “been consigned to history alongside the Warsaw Pact.”
“However, rather than breaking up, NATO has kept strengthening and expanding, and intervened militarily in countries like Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan,” he said. “One could well anticipate the consequences going down this path. The crisis in Ukraine is a stern warning.”
Beijing has yet to publicly defend or condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China’s official press has largely embraced Russia’s view of the conflict, saying NATO’s expansionist policies in eastern Europe were the root cause of the fight.
Officials in Washington have grown concerned that Beijing will entertain Moscow’s reported requests for economic and military support for Russia’s war on Ukraine, prompting a two-hour call between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday in which Mr. Biden warned of “consequences if China provided material support for Russia as it prosecutes its brutal war in Ukraine.”
Following Friday’s call between Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi, White House officials declined to spell out specific penalties the administration was prepared to levy against China should it provide aid to Russia. Officials also did not say if China had decided whether to offer any assistance to Russia.
In its readout of the call, the Chinese government said Mr. Xi stressed the role the U.S. and China must play together in ensuring world peace and said Beijing was pushing for an end to the fighting in Ukraine.
“The Ukraine crisis is not something we want to see,” Mr. Xi told Mr. Biden, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Mr. Le said that Mr. Xi expressed that parties in Ukraine should demonstrate “political will and keep the negotiation going,” during his call with Mr. Biden.
“The U.S. and NATO should also have dialogue with Russia to address the crux of the Ukraine crisis and ease the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine,” Mr. Le said.
Mr. Le also took aim at the sanctions levied against Russia, saying the west’s response has gone too far.
“Sanctions against Russia are now going to such lengths that globalization is being used as a weapon, even people from sports, cultural, art, and entertainment communities are not spared, cats and trees are sanctioned, and the overseas assets of Russian citizens have been seized groundlessly,” he said.
-Jeff Mordock contributed to this report
– This story includes wire reports