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Biden, Scholz pledge to punish Russia over Ukraine war

An EU official also said China supplying weapons to Russia would be an ‘absolute red line’ and lead to sanctions: report

US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have pledged to continue imposing heavy costs on Russia for its war in Ukraine, while a European Union official said any weapons supplied to Russia by China would trigger sanctions.

Biden and Scholz met Friday in Washington, D.C., as the United States announced a new $400 million military aid package for Ukraine, including munitions and tactical bridges to move tanks and armored vehicles. The additional ammunition is being sent to replenish supplies in anticipation of Ukraine’s spring offensive.

The meeting between US and German leaders comes as US officials said Ukraine was bracing for another Russian offensive in the coming weeks. Washington officials said points of discussion among the leaders included the state of the war and how to respond if China offered military aid to Russia.

Sitting next to Scholz in the Oval Office on Friday, Biden praised the German leader’s decision to sharply increase Germany’s military spending and diversify energy resources beyond Russia, saying the two leaders were working closely with other allies to support Ukraine.

“As NATO allies, we are making the alliance stronger,” Biden said.

Scholz said it was important to show that the Allies would support Kiev “as long as it takes and as long as it takes.”

While China has denied any intention to arm Russia, Washington has begun consulting allies about possible sanctions if Beijing provided military aid to Moscow for its war in Ukraine, sources told Reuters news agency.

Washington has claimed in recent weeks that China was considering supplying arms to Russia, though US officials have provided no evidence or said such deliveries have begun.

“We haven’t seen China do anything about deadly weapons yet,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters ahead of the two leaders’ meeting.

“Every step China takes towards Russia makes things more difficult for China with Europe and other countries around the world,” she said.

A senior EU official also told a separate briefing on Friday that giving Beijing arms to Moscow would be an “absolute red line” and that the EU would respond with sanctions, Reuters reported.

Germany has typically taken a much less aggressive stance than the US toward China, its main trading partner, but Scholz sent a strong warning to China on Thursday not to give Moscow weapons. He also appealed to Beijing to put pressure on Russia to withdraw its troops.

“Do not supply weapons to the aggressor Russia,” Scholz said in a speech to the German parliament ahead of his meeting with Biden.

The $400 million military aid package for Ukraine announced Friday adds to the nearly $32 billion in aid the US has sent Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russia.

“This military aid package includes more ammunition for US-supplied HIMARS and howitzers, which Ukraine uses so effectively to defend itself, as well as ammunition for Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, armored vehicle-launched bridges, demolition munitions and equipment, and other maintenance, training and support ‘ said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announcing the aid.

Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the US, said that by increasing military aid to Ukraine, Washington wanted to inflict a strategic defeat on Moscow, but had no chance of succeeding, according to Russia’s state news agency TASS.

“Any foreign weapons that fall into Ukrainian hands on the battlefield will be crushed and destroyed,” TASS quoted Antonov as saying.