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Jake Sullivan: Aiding Russia would be a ‘bad mistake’ for China

It would be “a bad mistake” for China to send military aid to Russia, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said amid reports that China may funnel drones and ammunition to Moscow.

“Beijing will have to make its own decisions about how it proceeds, whether it provides military assistance, but it will come at real cost to China, and I think China’s leaders are weighing that as they make their decisions,” Sullivan said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Sullivan noted that the U.S. has yet to see China make a final decision on whether or not they will provide assistance to Russia. But in the meantime, Sullivan said, “We will watch carefully, we will be vigilant, and we will continue to send a strong message that we believe that sending military aid to Russia at this time, when they are using their weapons to bombard cities, kill civilians, and commit atrocities would be a bad mistake and China should want no part of it.”

Though Sullivan said he wants to keep messages to China “in the private high-level diplomatic channels that we have established to discuss these issues,” he did say that the war “presents real complications for Beijing,” as the country’s leaders try to balance diplomatic relationships across the world.

The reports on China’s plans to potentially aid Russia come as Beijing put forth a 12-point peace plan between Russia and Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday he is open to considering parts of the proposal, but that China’s words must be followed by actions.

On Sunday, Sullivan emphasized the importance of a meeting between Chinese and Ukraine leadership.

“China put forward this plan without having had a single conversation since the war began between President Xi [Jinping] and President Zelenskyy,” Sullivan said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The Chinese have talked to the Russians a lot, but at the most senior levels they have not talked to the Ukrainians, and it’s very difficult to advance any kind of peace initiative when there’s that kind of one-sided diplomacy going.”

Sullivan also dove in to President Joe Biden’s long-awaited decision to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

“[Biden] originally decided against sending [Abrams tanks] because his military told them that they would not be useful on the battlefield in this fight,” Sullivan said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

What would be useful, Sullivan said, were Germany’s Leopard tanks. But after German officials told the White House they would not send those alone, Biden changed his mind.

“So, in the interest of alliance unity and to ensure that Ukraine got what it wanted, despite the fact that the Abrams aren’t the tool they need, the president said, ‘OK, I’m going to be the leader of the Free World. I will send Abrams down the road if you send Leopards now.’ Those Leopards are getting sent now,” Sullivan said.

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