China is considering sending Russia lethal military aid in the form of artillery shells as President Vladimir Putin’s army rapidly depletes its supply of ammunition a year into his invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials said, a prospect that has alarmed those in the Biden administration who believe Beijing has the ability to transform the war’s trajectory.
There is no evidence that any weapons transfers have occurred, these officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the U.S. government’s assessment. But if China does move ahead, it would mark the first time Beijing has provided lethal aid in the conflict despite repeated warnings by the United States not to provide such support. It would also violate the spirit of a peace plan Chinese leaders proposed Friday.
President Biden said Friday that he does not expect China to provide significant weapons assistance to Russia.
“I don’t anticipate — we haven’t seen it yet — but I don’t anticipate a major initiative on the part of China providing weaponry to Russia,” he said in an interview with ABC News. When asked if any future support would cross a red line, Biden said that the United States “would respond.”
The aid being contemplated consists of 122-millimeter and 152-millimeter rounds, which Russia has in dwindling supply as it prosecutes a war largely fought with artillery, the officials said. [Continue reading…]