White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to questions Thursday about whether the U.S. can expect China to assist Russia in its violent invasion of Ukraine.
Psaki told reporters President Biden has a call scheduled for Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss China’s long-term relationship with Russia. The Chinese Communist Party has been characteristically opaque about its intentions. Biden’s meeting follows a similar conference between National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Chinese counterpart.
“The president, as I think you’ve heard him say before, and I’ve said, is a big believer and leader to diplomacy. And they have a lot to discuss, given the last time the president met with President Xi virtually was last November, a couple of months ago. The meeting tomorrow – in terms of how we got here – came as a direct follow-up to the meeting our national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, had with his counterpart. They talked about the two presidents meeting or engaging in the near future during that meeting.
“There has been, of course, rhetorical support or the absence of clear rhetoric and denunciation – or the absence of denunciation – by China of what Russia is doing,” Psaki added. “This flies in the face, of course, of everything China stands for – including the basic principles of the U.N. charter, including the basic principles of respect for sovereignty of nations. So, the fact that China is not denouncing what Russia is doing in and of itself speaks volumes. And it also speaks volumes – not only in Russia and Ukraine, but around the world.”
Psaki stressed that while the call is set to cover a range of issues relevant to China and the U.S., the main focus will be an assessment of Chinese interests in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“This call also comes after Jake Sullivan’s meeting earlier this week, as we have made clear our deep concerns about China’s alignment with Russia and the potential implications and consequences of that,” Psaki concluded.
U.S. officials have claimed that Russia has sought military and economic aid from China. The Kremlin has denied reports claiming it made the request, and China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian dismissed allegations China agreed to send aid to Russia as “misinformation.” He maintained that China remains “completely objective, impartial and constructive,” on the “Ukraine issue,” refusing to call the conflict a “war.”
Zhao has also repeated the Russian line about U.S.-backed Ukrainian laboratories near the border creating biological weapons, claims Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department have all unequivocally denied. Zelenskyy delivered an address to Congress Wednesday during which he showed a video demonstrating the death and destruction suffered by Ukrainian civilians, especially women, children and the elderly as Russian troops have bombarded cities and advanced toward the capital of Kyiv in the three weeks since the invasion began.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was allegedly on a flight headed to Beijing Thursday, but the plane turned around midway and flew back toward Moscow, according to German newspaper Bild.
The plane reportedly turned around while over Novosibirsk, a city in Siberia, according to Bild. Fox News Digital has been unable to independently verify the outlet’s report.
A tweet posted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia on Thursday states Lavrov was holding a press conference just ahead of 1 p.m. Thursday local time. That would put Lavrov in Moscow at the time he was allegedly in the air.
It is unclear if China refused to meet with a Russian official or if Russian President Vladimir Putin called him back to Russia, according to Bild. The plane’s final destination is also unclear.