Zelensky’s comments came the same day President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv and two days after U.S. intelligence officials revealed that they believe China is considering sending lethal aid to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces.
“For us, it is important that China does not support the Russian Federation in this war,” the Ukrainian president told German daily Die Welt, according to Reuters. “In fact, I would like it to be on our side. At the moment, however, I don’t think it’s possible.”
“But I do see an opportunity for China to make a pragmatic assessment of what is happening here,” Zelensky added. “Because if China allies itself with Russia, there will be a world war, and I do think that China is aware of that.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China on Saturday that there would be consequences if the communist country sent lethal aid to support Russia in the war nearing its one-year mark. Blinken has reportedly been concerned about China cozying up to Putin and taking on a larger role in the war.
“We’ve been watching this very, very closely. And, for the most part, China has been engaged in providing rhetorical, political, diplomatic support to Russia, but we have information that gives us concern that they are considering providing lethal support to Russia in the war against Ukraine,” Blinken said in a Sunday interview following his meeting with China’s senior foreign policy official.
Since Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022, the U.S. has pledged nearly $200 billion in assistance to Ukraine, including weapons, ammunition, long-range missiles, and tanks. Meanwhile, Chinese companies have aided Russia’s military with navigation equipment, jamming technology, and fighter jet parts, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month.
Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley estimated in November that 100,000 soldiers had been killed on each side and as many as 40,000 civilians had also died. The Biden administration has been criticized, mostly by Republicans, for sending a “blank check” to Ukraine without an end goal or plan for negotiating peace.