US Secretary of State Blinken tells China the ‘world is watching’ its response to Russia’s assault on Ukraine

US’s top diplomat spoke with China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday after visiting Poland’s border with Ukraine

Rachel Sharp
Saturday 05 March 2022 20:42 GMT
Blinken meets Ukrainian refugees at Polish border

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told China that the “world is watching” how it responds to Russia’s war on Ukraine, as Beijing continues to refuse to condemn the Kremlin for its attack.

The US’ top diplomat spoke with the PRC’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a phone call about Moscow’s “premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified war against Ukraine” on Saturday, state department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

“The Secretary noted the world is watching to see which nations stand up for the basic principles of freedom, self-determination and sovereignty,” he said.

“He underscored that the world is acting in unison to repudiate and respond to the Russian aggression, ensuring that Moscow will pay a high price.”

In the 10 days since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, China has refused to speak out against Moscow and has hit out at the West for issuing sanctions on Russian entities and oligarchs.

The country – like Russia – also appears to be trying to control the information that reaches its citizens about the war.

Newspaper Beijing News revealed that the country’s media outlets were sent instructions last week, ordering them to only report pro-Russian content and to censor anti-Russian views.

The outlet posted a copy of the instructions on social media before later deleting it.

This came after senior US and EU officials told the New York Times that China had asked Russia to delay its invasion until after Beijing’s Winter Olympics.

The Olympics closing ceremony took place on 20 February and the following day Russian President Vladimir Putin sent more Russian troops into eastern Ukraine.

Mr Blinken’s message to China came the same day he traveled to Poland to meet with both Ukrainian and Polish officials about Western efforts to support Ukraine in its defence against the Russian attack.

The top US diplomat met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba along the Ukraine-Poland border with the two seen walking together across a painted line that appeared to mark the border between the two nations.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba walk along the Ukraine-Poland border
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba walk along the Ukraine-Poland border (AP)

During the talks, Mr Blinken told Mr Kuleba that “the entire world stands with Ukraine, just as I am standing here in Ukraine with my friend, my colleague”.

Meanwhile, Mr Kuleba echoed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s calls for Nato allies to set up a no-fly zone over Ukraine and to send more fighter jets to help Ukrainian troops. Doing so would be a major escalation in the conflict, and would bring the West into direct military conflict with Russia.

The foreign minister said if the West keeps sending weapons and planes, he is confident Ukraine can prevent bloodshed and win the war.

“If they continue to provide us with necessary weapons, the price will be lower. This will save many lives,” he said.

As the officials held talks, Ukrainians fleeing from heavy shelling and Russian missile attacks on their homes crossed the border close by into Poland.

Earlier Saturday, the US secretary of state also visited a center for refugees where he heard from evacuees how they had fled their homes after Russian forces attacked.

He also held talks with Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau about increasing Russian sanctions and around how the US can support countries like Poland which are taking in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees.

More than 700,000 refugees have already been welcomed into Poland from Ukraine with thousands more expected in the coming weeks, said Mr Rau.

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