Russia’s request to China for military and financial assistance amid its assault on Ukraine reportedly also included food for its personnel, hinting at the logistical troubles that Vladimir Putin’s military is facing.
Russia has asked China to help with weapons as well as pre-packaged, non-perishable military food kits, known in the US as “meal, ready-to-eat” or MREs as Moscow’s war on Ukraine has raged on for nearly three weeks, with no end in sight.
Putin’s troops are believed to be suffering from shortages of food and fuel, according to intelligence from both UK and US defence officials.
China is considering helping Russia with its request for read-to-eat food, according to CNN. A source told the outlet that China’s primary concern was about providing assistance with lethal weapons as it could provoke the west.
An unnamed US diplomat also told the outlet that the Joe Biden administration is aware of the request. While it is not clear if China intends to provide Russia with that assistance, sources said it may have some “openness” in the matter.
The information is also being conveyed to the Nato allies.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday warned China not to help Russia, threatening severe consequences if it does so. The warning came a day after Washington claimed Moscow had asked Beijing to send it weapons.
Both the Kremlin and the Chinese Communist Party denied that such a request was made, with the Chinese foreign ministry calling it “disinformation”.
“The US has repeatedly spread malicious disinformation against China on the Ukraine issue,” the Chinese Embassy in London told Reuters on Tuesday. “China has been playing a constructive role in promoting peace talks.”
China added: “The top priority now is to ease the situation, instead of adding fuel to the fire, and work for diplomatic settlement rather than further escalate the situation.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has also said it has been indicated China would face “significant consequences” if the country provides Russia with military or other support that “violates sanctions or supports the war effort.”
While food assistance may be a matter of nonlethal support, the request underlines the lack of preparedness of the Russian army for the invasion.
Several reports in the past have indicated Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine was hasty and that the Russian army is facing basic concerns at the moment, which is obstructing its progress.
The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered.