Russia asked China to give it military equipment and support for the war in Ukraine after President Vladimir V. Putin began a full-scale invasion last month, according to U.S. officials.
Russia has also asked China for additional economic assistance, to help counteract the battering its economy has taken from broad sanctions imposed by the United States and European and Asian nations, according to an official. American officials, determined to keep secret their means of collecting the intelligence on Russia’s requests, declined to describe further the kind of military equipment Moscow is seeking.
The officials also declined to discuss any reaction by China to the requests. President Xi Jinping of China has strengthened a partnership with Mr. Putin and has stood by him as Russia has stepped up its military campaign, destroying cities in Ukraine and killing hundreds or thousands of civilians.
American officials are watching China closely to see whether it will act on any requests of aid from Russia. Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, is scheduled to meet on Monday in Rome with Yang Jiechi, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s elite Politburo and director of the party’s Central Foreign Affairs Commission.
Another person familiar with the situation said the US was preparing to warn its allies, amid some indications that China may be preparing to help Russia. Other US officials have said there were signs that Russia was running out of some kinds of weaponry as the war in Ukraine extends into its third week.
The White House did not comment. Liu Pengyu, the Chinese embassy spokesperson in Washington, said he was unaware of any suggestions that China might be willing to help Russia. “China is deeply concerned and grieved on the Ukraine situation,” Liu said. “We sincerely hope that the situation will ease and peace will return at an early date.”
The revelation comes as Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser, heads to Rome for talks on Monday with Yang Jiechi, China’s top foreign policy official. Before leaving Washington on Sunday, Sullivan warned China not to try to “bail out” Russia by helping Moscow to circumvent the sanctions that the US and its allies have imposed on President Vladimir Putin and his regime.