Following warnings from the Biden administration that China was weighing whether to provide lethal aid to Russia for its war in Ukraine, the White House’s national security adviser said Sunday that they were “not taking steps to provide weapons” “at this point.” to Moscow.
“We’re watching closely,” Jake Sullivan told ABC’s “This Week” co-host Martha Raddats. “We know they haven’t taken that off the table. And we’re sending a clear message to our European allies that this is a real mistake because those weapons will be used to bomb cities and kill civilians, and China should do that. It wants no part of that.”
It’s hard to say whether China is “backing off, backtracking” on the decision, but “all I can say is we don’t see them doing that,” Sullivan said.
Chinese officials have defended their relationship with Russia as “built on non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-targeting of third countries”.
But President Joe Biden told ABC’s David Muir last week that the U.S. was prepared to respond if Beijing moved forward with arms shipments.
Biden has ruled out providing Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets “for now,” despite repeated requests from President Volodymyr Zelensky, Sullivan said “this week.” He called it the “later question.”
Sullivan said the US government’s focus now is to help Ukrainians “regain ground” in its southern and eastern territories.
Asked whether the U.S. could deliver F-16s in the future, Sullivan reiterated that the White House is prioritizing the war’s immediate needs and will continue to do so.
“At every stage of this war, the president tried to make sure that the Ukrainian military got what they needed. In the first stage, when they defended Kiev, it was Javelin anti-tank weapons and Stinger anti-aircraft systems. Ukraine helped defend Kiev. In the second stage, they were given to fight the Russians in eastern Ukraine. “Heavy artillery has helped. At this point, the critical element is ground maneuver capability. That means tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles,” Sullivan said. “So what the president is saying is that he’s focusing on those skills.”
Pressed further by Raddatz about the possibility of the U.S. eventually approving the fighter jets — which has been endorsed not only by Zelensky but by some top lawmakers, such as House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul — Sullivan told her, “We’ll cross the bridge to future phases. This war when they come.”
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told Radatts a week ago, “This Week,” that one reason Biden is not providing Ukraine with F-16s is because of the training and maintenance required.
“So why not teach them now? So if they need it, if you want to approve it in the future, they’ll be ready to go,” Radatz told Sullivan.
“From our perspective, the most important thing we can do is make sure we focus on the highest priority, and honestly, Martha, the highest priority right now is to move as quickly as possible to build their capacity. Occupy the parts of Ukraine that are still brutally and bloodyly occupied by Russian forces,” he said. “We expect this to be the focus of the Ukrainians and our support for the Ukrainians in the weeks and months ahead.”
In January, Biden approved sending 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, but last week Defense Secretary Christine Wormuth said the vehicles may not arrive in the country this year.
“How can it help if you don’t recognize them in time?” “This week,” asked Radatz.
Sullivan supported this decision, saying that the release of the Abrams tanks was made a precondition of coordination with Germany, so they would send German-made Panther tanks to the battlefield, which would arrive very quickly.
“This is an example of Joe Biden mobilizing a global coalition to get Ukraine what it needs,” he said.
The president said, ‘Well, I’m going to be the leader of the free world, and if I send the Panthers in now, I’ll send Abrams down the road.’
Separately, after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was shot down over US airspace, three unidentified flying objects in North America were not other instances of the military downing potential threats.
Raddats asked if this happened because the radar was recalculated, but Sullivan said the NORAD commander “didn’t recalculate our radar.”
“We continue to be vigilant about unidentified objects coming into US territory,” he said. “Under President Biden’s guidance, what we did, MARTHA, is that the policy parameters are set when we will take dangerous action against an object, shoot it down, as opposed to dealing with it in other ways.”
Government officials said the “leading explanation” for the three additional objects was that they were either commercial or civilian balloons.
“Friend of animals everywhere. Coffee maven. Professional food trailblazer. Twitter buff.”