US officials say China is considering sending artillery and ammunition to Russia

New intelligence suggests China is considering sending artillery and ammunition to Russia, according to three US officials familiar with the matter.

The officials did not say what specific evidence they had to support the intelligence, which was confirmed to NBC News by a former US official and a Western official briefed on the matter, and originally reported by The Wall Street Journal was done.

NBC News has contacted China’s foreign ministry for comment about the revelations, which come after Beijing put forward a 12-point peace plan on Friday – the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It called on both countries to agree on a gradual de-escalation, keep nuclear facilities secure, establish humanitarian corridors, and stop attacks on civilian populations.

Earlier this month Beijing responded strongly to US allegations that it could provide non-lethal military aid to Moscow, and is asking Washington to stay out of its ties with the Kremlin.

Rob Lee, senior fellow at the Philadelphia-based think tank Foreign Policy Research Institute, said that if China decides to provide arms to Russia, it could be a significant development. Twitter,

He added that “the availability of artillery ammunition for Ukraine and Russia is arguably the most important variable that could affect the course of the war.”

But Keir Giles, a Russia expert and a senior adviser at the London-based think tank Chatham House, told NBC News by telephone on Sunday that “earlier assessments and predictions of Russia running out of any given type of ammunition, This has not proven to be the case in real life.

He added that if Moscow was turning to “alternative suppliers” other than the drones it obtained from Iran, it was “a sign that they are depleting their post-Cold War stockpile of arms and ammunition at the pace that Which they think is destabilizing.” ,

Phillips O’Brien, a professor of strategic studies at Britain’s University of St Andrews, said it would be a “strange choice” for China as it would “severely damage relations with China’s largest customer group” in the US. and Europe.

The Chinese expected the delivery of ammunition to be perceived as a “limited” form of aid, drawing a “limited response” was a “risky presumption”, he said.

After China unveiled its peace plan, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday he wanted to meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to discuss Beijing’s proposals to end the conflict.

“China historically respects our territorial integrity, and therefore it should do everything for Russia to leave the territory of Ukraine,” he told a news conference, adding that he believes Xi The meeting “will benefit security in our countries and in the world.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a video meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow in December.Mikhail Klementyev / Sputnik / AFP via Getty Images File

He did not say whether a meeting with the Chinese leader had been arranged or gave any indication of when it might happen, but insisted that his main goal was to ensure that China stopped supplying arms to Russia. Didn’t do it.

President Joe Biden and European leaders appeared skeptical of Beijing’s peace proposals.

Biden told ABC News on Friday that the idea was “not rational,” adding that he “didn’t see anything in the plan to indicate that would be beneficial to anyone other than Russia.”

Speaking at a news conference in Estonia on Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said China “doesn’t have much credibility because they haven’t been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine.”

At the same news conference, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said European leaders would look to Chinese principles for peace “against the background that China has already taken sides.”

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