The United States is expected to announce new sanctions against Chinese companies that the Biden administration says are violating export bans against Moscow.
The US Commerce Department will list over 80 companies from Russia, China and other countries accused of sanctions busting, The Guardian said, including “backfill activities in support of Russia’s defence sector”, replenishing material that Moscow has used up in the invasion.
The companies named would be blocked from purchasing high-tech items like computer chips made in the US, or using US technology abroad, it said.
Victoria Nuland, the under secretary of State for political affairs, said the government has identified Chinese-based or Chinese entities in Europe that are evading sanctions placed against Russia to strangle its ability to finance and supply its war in Ukraine, according to a report by The Hill.
“There will be in the sanctions package, that we will be announcing tomorrow on the one-year anniversary of the war,” Nuland was quoted as saying on Thursday.
“We will also be putting other constraints on entities, Chinese-based or Chinese subs of entities in Europe, which we think are active in evading sanctions.”
More US military aid
The news follows the Treasury Department imposing sanctions on a Chinese company in late January for allegedly providing images from its mini-satellites to the Wagner group, whose mercenary fighters are supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The firm – Changsha Tiny Space Science and Technology Research Institute, known as Spacety China – has offices in Beijing and Luxembourg.
The US also announced new military aid for Ukraine to demonstrate its resolve on the first anniversary of the full-scale Russian invasion.
The military assistance package will include several new drone and anti-drone systems the US has not previously made available as well as equipment to help Ukraine counter Russian electronic warfare.
China, India Abstain in UN Vote
Meanwhile, Asia’s superpowers China and India both abstained from voting on a proposal put to the UN General Assembly that called for an end to the war and demanding that Russia leave Ukraine.
The proposal on Thursday (New York time) – a non-binding resolution advocating for peace, reaffirming support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and stressing the need for accountability for war crimes – won overwhelming support.
Some 141 countries supported the resolution, while 32, including China and India, abstained, while seven – Russia and six others opposed the proposal.
The voting was close to a similar proposal endorsed by the UN in March 2022.
China peace push not credible: NATO chief
China has now abstained from voting on three resolutions since the war began and is seeking to portray itself as having a neutral outlook. Its Foreign Ministry called on Friday to an end to sanctions against Russia and urged a ceasefire.
“Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable way out to resolve the Ukraine crisis,” it said in a statement.
But China’s call for peace talks between Ukraine and Russia “doesn’t have much credibility”, according to NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, who like the US, has warned China against supplying arms to Russia.
Stoltenberg told reporters: “China doesn’t have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine and they also signed just days before the invasion an agreement between President Xi and President Putin on a limitless partnership with Russia.”
His position appeared to be bolstered by a report by a German newspaper that a Chinese firm was in talks to sell military drones to Russia.
Yellen sanctions warning at G20
The latest sanctions are no surprise. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that China faced “serious consequences” if it provides material support to Russia and seeks to evade US sanctions.
Her remarks were made at the G20 meeting in India. “We have made clear that providing material support to Russia or assistance with any kind of systemic sanctions evasion would be a very serious concern for us,” she said on Thursday.
“We will certainly continue to make clear to the Chinese government and the companies and banks in their jurisdiction about what the rules are regarding our sanctions and the serious consequences they would face for violating them.”
Yellen said US sanctions on Russia were working, saying they had a serious impact on the Russian economy and that its defence sector had faced production halts.
But she urged for tougher restrictions and said the US “will stand with Ukraine in its fight – for as long as it takes.”
“We are seeking to strengthen sanctions and make sure that we address violations of sanctions,” Yellen said. “We have deprived them of many channels they can obtain material that is critical for their defence efforts.
“That is a particular focus we have in mind in respect to enforcement of existing sanctions and perhaps with respect to further sanctions.”
- Jim Pollard with Reuters