Russia sees China as lifeline against sanctions, but U.S. threatens ‘consequences’ if Beijing helps

Two days after national security advisor Jake Sullivan warned his Chinese counterpart of serious consequences if Beijing helps Russia wage its war against Ukraine, what exactly they might be remains shrouded in secrecy.

“We’re going to have this conversation directly with China and Chinese leadership, not through the media,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday.

Psaki said that Sullivan was “very direct about the consequences” during his Monday meeting in Rome with China’s top foreign policy official, Yang Jiechi.

“But in terms of any potential impacts or consequences, we’ll lead those through private diplomatic channels at this point,” Psaki said.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches its fourth week, concerns over how Western allies will react if China or Chinese companies try to assist Moscow in evading sanctions imposed by the U.S., U.K., Europe and Japan have added a new level of uncertainty to global markets already reeling from the collapse of the Russian economy.

That uncertainty is compounded by the fresh memory of what happened the last time the White House issued vague warnings about consequences, during the lead-up to Russia’s invasion.

On Feb. 20, four days before Russian troops marched into Ukraine, Psaki issued a statement saying the U.S. was “ready to impose swift and severe consequences” if Russian carried out its apparent plans.

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