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threats US president warns of 'consequences' if China provides Russia with weapons

:: There will be consequences, says Joe Biden

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US President Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden

Joe Biden last night warned of “consequences” if Beijing provided Russia with weapons to assist its invasion of Ukraine. The US president issued the direct challenge to Xi Jinping in a two-hour call, their first communication since the start of the war.

In response, the Chinese president claimed the US was responsible for the conflict and said: “He who tied the bell to the tiger must take it off.”

The talks between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies came as intense Ukrainian resistance stalled Vladimir Putin’s advance, and as more Western weapons poured into the country.

US officials told allies earlier this week that Russia was seeking military support from Beijing, including armed drones, surface-to-air missiles, armoured vehicles and intelligence-gathering technology.

They believe Beijing has been receptive to Moscow’s requests, and may help it circumvent economic sanctions.

The EU said it had “very reliable evidence” that China was considering the provision of military assistance, and suggested Beijing was “flirting with the Russians”.

A senior US official said the call was a “direct, candid, detailed and very substantive conversation”, and added: “The president underscored his support for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.”

However, Beijing’s summary of the call suggested its position had not changed, with Mr Xi refusing to condemn Russia, and also criticising the West’s sanctions on Russia. The Chinese leader said America and Nato should hold talks with Russia “to solve the crux of the Ukraine crisis”.

According to the Xinhua news agency, Mr Xi told Mr Biden: “Implementing all-round and indiscriminate sanctions, it is the common people who suffer.” Mr Xi also warned Mr Biden that further sanctions could cause “serious crises” in the global economy.

At the start of the fourth week of Mr Putin’s attempt to subdue what he calls an artificial state undeserving of nationhood, Ukraine’s elected government is still standing and Russian forces have not captured a single big city.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for comprehensive peace talks, saying Russia would otherwise need generations to recover from losses suffered during the war.
Zelensky said Ukraine had always offered solutions for peace and wanted meaningful and honest negotiations without delay.

“I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow. The time has come for a meeting, it is time to talk,” he said in a video address released in the early hours of Saturday.

“The time has come to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be such that it will take you several generations to recover.”

Zelensky said Russian forces were deliberately blocking humanitarian supplies to cities under attack. “This is a war crime and they will answer for it, 100pc,” he said.

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With Russia looking to regain the initiative, three missiles landed at an airport near Lviv, a western city where hundreds of thousands thought they had found refuge far from Ukraine’s battlefields.

It came as Britain’s defence intelligence chief warned Russia had moved to a strategy of “attrition” meaning more civilians would die. He warned it would mean “reckless and indiscriminate use of firepower” by the Russians.

Earlier, Kyiv and Moscow reported progress in talks towards a political formula that would guarantee Ukraine security protection outside of the Nato alliance.

But Ukraine said the need for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops remained unchanged, and both sides accused each other of dragging out the talks.

(© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)

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