FirstFT: US says China signaled openness to aid Russia

Economy News

The US has told allies that China signaled its willingness to provide military assistance to Russia to support its invasion of Ukraine, according to officials familiar with American diplomatic cables on the exchange.

The cables, which were sent by the US state department to allies in Europe and Asia, were not specific about the level or timing of any assistance that may be provided.

FT’s Demetri Sevastopulo reported on Sunday that Russia had made the request for assistance at some point after the start of the now three-week conflict.

The Russian request and Chinese response have sounded alarm bells in the White House. US officials believe China is trying to help Russia while its top officials publicly call for a diplomatic solution to the war.

The Chinese embassy in the US on Sunday said it had no knowledge of any Russian request or positive Chinese response to Moscow. Russia on Monday also denied making any request to China.

A senior US defense official declined to say if China had provided military support after Russia’s request, but said the Pentagon was watching the situation “very, very closely”.

The remarks come after Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser, met in Rome with Yang Jiechi, China’s top foreign policy official, which another senior US official described as “an intense seven-hour session reflecting the gravity of the moment”.

Tensions have only deepened as Chinese diplomats and prominent state media have repeated Russian disinformation reports about US-run biological laboratories in Ukraine.

More on Ukraine

  • Latest from Ukraine: Russian forces allowed some trapped in Mariupol to leave as officials from Moscow and Kyiv held the fourth round of negotiations. A pregnant woman caught in last week’s Russian air strike that hit a Mariupol children’s hospital and maternity ward has died along with her baby.

  • Markets: Some of the few Russian shares still trading on a global exchange are changing hands at a blistering pace in Hong Kong, but US banks refuse to touch them.

  • Sanctions: The UK government is preparing to sanction hundreds of individuals linked to Vladimir Putin as parliament fast-tracks legislation to crack down on the flow of “dirty money” into the country.

  • Business: Bayer has threatened to suspend crop supply sales to Russia next year unless the country stops its attacks on Ukraine. Across the globe, the war is impacting US farmers’ spring planting plans.

  • Energy: A secret meeting between the Biden administration and Maduro’s authoritarian regime in Venezuela has triggered backlash among US lawmakers.

  • Free to read: Volunteer soldiers prepare to make their stand on battle-scarred suburban streets.

  • Opinion: It is often assumed that China will be the senior partner in the “no limits” partnership with Russia but Xi’s decision to embrace Putin now looks like a miscalculation, writes Gideon Rachman.

Follow our live blog and updated maps for the latest on the conflict.

Coronavirus digest

Line chart of Hang Seng China Enterprises index showing Investors dump China stocks as Omicron tests 'zero-Covid' strategy

Hong Kong threatens British campaigner with national security law
Benedict Rogers, head of Hong Kong Watch, has been ordered to shut down the organization’s website he leads or face imprisonment by Hong Kong’s police in a rare extrajudicial use of Beijing’s national security law.

2. Former Wirecard chief executive charged with fraud Markus Braun has been formally charged by Munich public prosecutors with fraud, breach of trust and accounting manipulation after a 21-month criminal investigation into the collapse of the German payments group.

3. SoftBank-backed Paytm shares tumble 13% Shares in Paytm fell more than 13 per cent yesterday after India’s central bank barred a division of the payment group from signing up new customers in the latest setback for the company following its blockbuster initial public offering last year.

4. Manchin to oppose Biden’s nomination for top Fed watchdog role Joe Manchin, the conservative Democratic senator from West Virginia, announced he would not support the nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin to the top regulatory role at the Federal Reserve, dealing a blow to her chances of being confirmed.

5. ENRC drops lawsuit against FT and journalist Tom Burgis A Kazakh mining group has dropped a libel claim against the Financial Times and one of its journalists over a book detailing the influx of “dirty money” into the west’s financial system.

The day ahead

Japan balance of trade data Figures for February are set to be released today. In January, Japan’s trade deficit hit an eight-year high. (Reuters)

Opec monthly oil market report The group is set to release its monthly data today as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeals to Saudi Arabia to increase production. Sign up here to receive our Energy Source newsletter.

Are you involved with training at your organization? The FT wants to hear from chief learning officers, heads of leadership development and other executives involved in the development of middle and senior managers. Results of the survey will be published in the FT Executive Education report in May 2022.

What else we’re reading

What you need to know about South Korea’s new president South Korea’s new conservative president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, a former chief prosecutor, has no foreign policy experience and has never held office. Elected last week by a margin of less than 1 per cent, Yoon will take charge when he assumes office in May. Read up on his policy positions.

Economic pressures squeeze Iran as nuclear talks stall Farmers, teachers, pensioners, sugar industry workers, oil sector laborers and others have all taken part in protests over the past 12 months. Each outburst of anger underlines what Tehran is grappling with as it battles to revive its heavily sanctioned economy and keep a lid on simmering discontent.

What does it mean to say you are Ukrainian? All of us are “Ukrainians” but when people use that word they do not mean the same thing – just as when people say they are British they do not all mean the same thing, writes author Marina Lewycka. But only one kind has been treated as truly Ukrainian by the west.

We need a grand bargain on energy Within the current crisis, there is opportunity: namely, the possibility of an US-EU grand bargain on energy security and climate change. It should not be missed, writes Rana Foroohar. Read more from Rana on this topic in her Swamp Notes newsletter.

Modi’s wins show how the power of his personal story endures The repeated embrace of autocratic candidates with democratic roots suggests that the well-worn story of democracy’s retreat in India is more complicated than it appears from afar, writes Ruchir Sharma.


The art market is feverish for non-fungibles. So how come they’re all so ugly? Talk to many art insiders and – if only privately – they’ll express horror at the stuff which is, apparently, a hot commodity.

“XYZ 0868 (Chinoiserie)” NFT, 2012-21, by Lucas Samaras © Lucas Samaras / Courtesy of Pace Gallery

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