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G7 countries slam Chinese firms’ support for Russia’s defence industry

In News, World
April 19, 2024

Ministers say the transfer of weapons components is enabling Russia to ‘reconstitute and revitalise’ its defence production for its war in Ukraine.

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) countries have expressed “strong concern” about the transfer of materials and weapons components from Chinese businesses to Russia for its military offensive in Ukraine.

At a meeting on the Italian island of Capri, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged his counterparts on Friday to increase pressure on China, which the United States accuses of supporting Russia’s war effort though its provision of critical components for weaponry.

Blinken said this was fuelling “the biggest threat to European security since the end of the Cold War”, telling a news conference, “We see China sharing machine tools, semiconductors, other dual-use items that have helped Russia rebuild the defence industrial base.”

As they ended their meeting on Capri, the G7 ministers said transfers of such material from Chinese companies were being used by Russia “to advance its military production”.

“This is enabling Russia to reconstitute and revitalise its defence industrial base, posing a threat both to Ukraine and to international peace and security,” they said, calling on China to stop its backing “as it will only prolong this conflict and increase the threat that Russia poses to its neighbours”.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said her country could not accept China pursuing closer relations with Russia.

“If China openly pursues an ever closer partnership with Russia, which is waging an illegal war against Ukraine, … we cannot accept this,” she said after the meeting.

Instead, Baerbock called on China “to make use of its influence on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin”.

Last year, Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a “no limits partnership” and a “new era” or cooperation”.

China has positioned itself as a neutral party in the war and offered to hold talks between the two sides. In March, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated that Beijing had an “objective and impartial position” on Ukraine.

“A conflict when prolonged tends to deteriorate and escalate and could lead to an even bigger crisis,” Wang said.

While the US has repeatedly drawn a red line on China supplying weapons to Russia, it has so far not presented proof that it has been crossed.

However, Washington has been increasingly condemning what it refers to as China’s “backdoor support” for Russia.

Senior US officials said last week that China was helping Russia undertake “its most ambitious defence expansion since the Soviet era and on a faster timeline than we believed possible” early in the Ukraine conflict.

Officials added that China was helping Russia in various areas, including the joint production of drones, space-based capabilities and exports that are vital for producing ballistic missiles.

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