U.S. government officials are doing all they can to discourage China from supplying Russia with arms that could be used to subjugate Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said today.
President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have spoken in the past few days about discouraging China from supplying the Russian war machine. The latest administration official to speak on this subject was Colin H. Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, who testified before the House Armed Services Committee today.
The senior government leaders "have all talked to the potential ramifications of China providing lethal aid," Ryder said during a Pentagon news conference. "We have not seen that they've done that at this point. But, again, it's something that we'll continue to closely monitor."
For China to supply arms to Russia would be counter to China's own expressed position on the conflict. "We believe that all countries deserve respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity, that the purposes and principles of the U.N. charter should be observed, that the legitimate security concerns of any country should be taken seriously, and that support should be given to all efforts that are conducive to peacefully resolving the crisis," said Mao Ning, China's foreign ministry spokesperson, on Oct. 10, 2022. "We hope all parties will properly address their differences through dialogue and consultation. China stands ready to continue to play a constructive part in de-escalation efforts."
White House officials said there are "indications" that China is contemplating supplying Russia with weapons. There is no indication Chinese leaders have decided to arm Russia, but they haven't taken it off the table, Ryder said. "And, so, we want to be crystal clear that that would be a poor decision, should they decide to do that."
DOD is concentrating on supplying Ukraine with the equipment it needs to defend itself from the Russian invasion.
If China does decide to supply arms "it will extend this conflict needlessly," Ryder said. "It will result in more innocent lives lost, as Russia continues to wage its campaign against Ukrainian citizens.
The press secretary also spoke of moves the United States is making to ensure the weapons are going where needed and not being diverted or sold. "We take accountability of U.S. assistance to Ukraine very seriously," he said. "We have an active and proactive whole-of-government system … to prevent the illicit diversion of weapons in Eastern Europe. Secretary Austin and DOD leaders have repeatedly discussed the importance of protecting our contributions with our Ukrainian counterparts."
DOD has a small team within the U.S. Embassy in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, that works closely with the Ukrainians to conduct end-use monitoring. "To this date, we have not seen any evidence of any type of widespread diversion of any of the assistance that we provided," he said.
Any equipment is tracked as it goes into Ukraine. "Once it is in Ukraine, depending on the particular system and on the requirements of monitoring that system, personnel at the embassy again work closely with Ukrainians," Ryder said.
The country is an active war zone, and U.S. personnel do not go into areas of active combat. Still, they're able to conduct virtual inspections of the materiel.