Biden, Scholz pledge to punish Russia over Ukraine war

An EU official also said China providing arms to Russia would be an ‘absolute red line’ and lead to sanctions: Report

Ukrainian service members ride a BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the front line city of Bakhmut, Ukraine March 3, 2023. REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak
Ukrainian service members ride on an infantry fighting vehicle at the front line city of Bakhmut, Ukraine, on March 3, 2023 [Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters]

US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have committed to continue imposing high costs on Russia for its war in Ukraine, while a European Union official said any arms provided by China to Russia would lead to sanctions.

Biden and Scholz met on Friday in Washington, DC as the United States announced a new military aid package for Ukraine worth $400m that includes ammunition and tactical bridges to move tanks and armoured vehicles. The additional ammunition is being sent to help boost stocks in anticipation of Ukraine’s spring offensive.

The meeting between the US and German leaders comes as US officials said Ukraine was bracing for a new Russian offensive in coming weeks. Officials in Washington said discussion points between the leaders included the state of the war and also how to respond if China provided military aid to Russia.

Sitting next to Scholz in the Oval Office on Friday, Biden hailed the German leader’s decision to sharply increase Germany’s military spending and diversify energy sources away from Russia, and said the two leaders had worked in lockstep with other allies to support Ukraine.

“As NATO allies, we’re making the alliance stronger,” Biden said.

Scholz said it was important to demonstrate that the allies would back Kyiv “as long as it takes and as long as is necessary”.

Though China has denied any intention to arm Russia, Washington has begun consulting with allies about imposing possible sanctions should Beijing provide Moscow with military aid for its war in Ukraine, sources told the Reuters news agency.

Washington claimed in recent weeks that China was considering providing weapons to Russia, although US officials have not provided evidence or said that such supplies have started.

“We haven’t yet seen China do anything yet, as it relates to lethal weapons,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters before the meeting of the two leaders.

“Every step China takes toward Russia makes it harder for China with Europe and other countries around the world,” she said.

A senior EU official also told a separate briefing on Friday that Beijing giving Moscow weapons would be an “absolute red line” and the EU would respond with sanctions, Reuters reported.

Germany has typically taken a much less hawkish stance than the US on China, its top trading partner, but Scholz sent a strong warning to China on Thursday not to give Moscow weapons. He also appealed to Beijing to pressure Russia to pull back its forces.

“Don’t deliver any weapons to the aggressor Russia,” Scholz said in a speech to the German parliament ahead of his meeting with Biden.

The $400m military aid package for Ukraine announced on Friday adds to the nearly $32bn in aid the US has sent Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russia.

“This military assistance package includes more ammunition for US-provided HIMARS and howitzers, which Ukraine is using so effectively to defend itself, as well as ammunition for Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridges, demolitions munitions and equipment, and other maintenance, training, and support,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in announcing the aid.

Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, said that in providing increased military aid to Ukraine, Washington wanted to inflict a strategic defeat on Moscow but had no chance of succeeding, Russia’s state TASS news agency said.

“All foreign weapons that fall into Ukrainian hands on the battlefield will be ground up and destroyed,” TASS quoted Antonov as saying.

Source: Reuters