Zelensky: It's WW3 if China sides with Putin in Ukraine

If China sides with Putin in Ukraine, World War 3 will have begun, warns Zelensky – as Beijing denies claims it is considering giving ‘lethal aid’ to Russia

  • Top US diplomat Blinken warned China could arm Russia in its on-going invasion
  • Biden made surprise visit to Kyiv today ahead of Putin’s meeting with Wang Yi

If China sides with Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, World War Three will have begun, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has warned.

Beijing denied claims it is considering giving ‘lethal aid’ to Russia, after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday warned top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi of consequences should his country wade in to the on-going conflict.

Blinken said in an interview after the two met that Washington was concerned Beijing was considering supplying weapons to Moscow, ahead of a planned meeting between Yi and the Russian president on Monday.

‘For us, it is important that China does not support the Russian Federation in this war,’ Zelensky told German daily Die Welt. ‘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,’ he added. ‘Because if China allies itself with Russia, there will be a world war, and I do think that China is aware of that.’

If China sides with Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, World War Three will have begun, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has warned.

Zelensky also told Die Welt that Ukraine had passed on to Moldovan President Maia Sandu intelligence suggesting that Russia was plotting a coup in Moldova.

‘Maia Sandu never asked me for help, but she thanked me for the information. She knows our situation. Ukraine will always be ready to help Moldova,’ he added.

The Kremlin said on Monday that Russia’s relations with Moldova were very tense and it accused Moldovan leaders of pursuing an anti-Russian agenda, one week after Chisinau said it had foiled a Russian coup attempt.

Zelensky’s World War Three warning came on the day US president Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine organised in strict secrecy.

He promised $500 million in fresh arms deliveries and ‘unwavering’ American support ahead of the first anniversary of Putin’s invasion.

The visit was made ahead of Putin’s expected meeting with Wang Yi, and as Beijing lashed out over the US suggesting it could supply weapons to Russia.

‘It is the United States and not China that is endlessly shipping weapons to the battlefield,’ China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

‘We urge the United States to earnestly reflect on its own actions, and do more to alleviate the situation, promote peace and dialogue, and stop shifting blame and spreading false information,’ he told a regular briefing. 

Biden’s visit comes at a crucial moment: Biden is trying to keep allies unified in their support for Ukraine as the war is expected to intensify with spring offensives.

Zelensky is pressing allies to speed up delivery of promised weapon systems and calling on the West to provide fighter jets – something that Biden has declined to do. 

Kyiv’s forces are preparing to defend against a Russian assault that could consist of 400 fighter jets, 300 helicopters, 1,800 new tanks and 3,950 armoured vehicles.

Ukraine have so far held off any major Russian gains in the east of the country since Kyiv’s armies pushed them back with two counteroffensives in the north and south in November. The battle lines have remained largely the same since.

This is despite Russia throwing wave upon wave of its soldiers against Ukraine’s frontline defences, with Britain’s MoD reporting last week that more than 800 Russian soldiers were being killed every day.

However, there are now serious concerns in the West that Ukraine is running low on vital ammunition to keep the potential Russian onslaught at bay.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping has stood by Putin, resisting Western pressure to isolate Russia. Chinese-Russian trade has soared since the invasion of Ukraine, and Russia has sold Asian powers including China greater volumes of oil. 

 Zelensky’s World War Three warning came on the day US president Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine organised in strict secrecy. Pictured: Zelensky and Biden shake hands in Kyiv at the Ukrainian presidential palace on February 20

Beijing denied claims it is considering giving ‘lethal aid’ to Russia, after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday warned top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi (pictured today in Hungary) of consequences should his country wade in to the on-going conflict

Chinese President Xi Jinping (pictured right in Beijing on February 4, 2022) has stood by Putin (left), resisting Western pressure to isolate Russia

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Biden’s visit marked a brazen rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had hoped his military would swiftly overrun Kyiv within days. 

The US president recalled speaking with Zelensky on the night of the invasion, saying, ‘That dark night one year ago, the world was literally at the time bracing for the fall of Kyiv. Perhaps even the end of Ukraine.’

Air raid sirens rang out across the capital at one point as Biden walked alongside Zelensky during what was the US president’s first visit to the country since Russian troops invaded on February 24, 2022. 

‘One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,’ Biden said, speaking alongside Zelensky at the Ukrainian president’s official residence, the Mariinsky Palace.

‘I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about US support for Ukraine in the war,’ he continued. ‘Putin thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. He thought he could outlast us.’

‘He’s just been plain wrong,’ Biden said, adding: ‘Putin’s war of conquest is failing’.

The visit – the first visit by a US president to Ukraine since 2008 – was organised in conditions of strict secrecy.

Biden left Andrews Air Force in the early hours of Sunday.

After handing over their devices, journalists were made aware of his presence on Air Force One just 15 minutes before the plane took off.

The White House did not report how he eventually reached Ukraine but other foreign leaders have travelled to Kyiv by train from Poland. 

During the trip, Biden promised an additional $500 million (468 million euros) in arms deliveries for Ukraine, mentioning in particular artillery ammunition, howitzers and Javelin anti-tank missiles.

Ukraine is estimated to be burning through thousands more shells each month than the EU defence industry is currently able to produce.

The European Union is weighing up plans to try to speed up its production and delivery of much-needed ammunition to help Kyiv’s fight.

Zelensky said he and Biden also discussed the possibility of supplying ‘long range weapons’ to Ukraine, a long-standing request from Kyiv that has been met with reticence in Washington where there is concern that they could be used to strike deep inside Russian territory.

Zelensky hailed the visit as a key sign of support.

‘This conversation brings us closer to victory,’ he said, calling the visit and the promise of additional US arms supplies ‘an unequivocal signal that Russian attempts to win will have no chance’.

After their talks, Biden and Zelensky visited St Michael’s Gold-Domed Cathedral, which has long been a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, and the air raid sirens were heard across the city as the two leaders left the church.

Biden and Zelensky then walked over and together laid a wreath at the Wall of Remembrance for the fallen heroes of the Russian-Ukrainian war, as a military salute played, and the two presidents stared down in silence for a few moments.

Biden later visited the US embassy in Kyiv before leaving the capital, according to a White House pool report.

He is expected to arrive in Poland on Tuesday where he is due to give a major speech in Warsaw – hours after a state of the nation address by Putin in Moscow that will be largely about the conflict in Ukraine.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also warned China against providing Russia with weapons for the war in Ukraine, saying: ‘for us, it would be a red line in our relationship.’

According to the latest estimates from Norway, the conflict has wounded or killed 180,000 Russian soldiers and 100,000 Ukrainian troops. Other Western sources estimate the war has caused 150,000 casualties on each side.

A Ukrainian tank moves on snow covered road as military mobility continues within the Russian-Ukrainian war in Donbas, Ukraine on February 14

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On the battlefield, Russia said Monday that its forces had taken control of a village near Bakhmut, the eastern city home to the longest-running battle of the war.

The defence ministry in Moscow said that volunteer fighters had ‘fully liberated’ the settlement of Paraskoviivka with the support of regular forces, including paratroopers and artillery.

The statement did not mention Russia’s mercenary group Wagner which claimed to have captured village on Friday.

Paraskoviivka is a hamlet on the northern outskirts of Bakhmut.

Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin has said it could take months to capture Bakhmut, which has turned into a key political and symbolic prize.

The months-long battle for the embattled city has exposed tensions between the Wagner paramilitary group and the Russian army, though the Kremlin denies any rift.

In January, Prigozhin claimed his fighters had taken control of nearby Soledar. Two days later, the defence ministry said that Moscow’s forces were controlling the town.

The Kremlin on Monday accused tiny Moldova of ‘anti-Russian hysteria’ after its prime minister called for the demilitarisation of the Moscow-backed separatist region of Transnistria.

Tensions have run high between pro-EU Moldova, wedged between Ukraine and Romania, and Russia during Moscow’s offensive against Kyiv.

‘Moldova is slipping into anti-Russian hysteria,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. ‘The lack of a constructive dialogue harms Moldova itself.’

He said Moscow’s relations with Chisinau were ‘tense’ and warned the small country to be ‘very, very careful’ with its statements.

Last week, Moldovan Prime Minister Dorin Recean said Chisinau should ‘continue our efforts so that Russian troops are withdrawn’ from Transnistria.

A Ukrainian serviceman of the 93rd brigade covers his ears while firing a French 120mm rifled towed mortar towards Russian positions in Bakhmut on February 15

‘The Trasnistrian area must be demilitarised,’ he said in parliament.

Transnistria is a narrow region bordering Ukraine, which separated from Moldova after a short 1992 war. Russian soldiers have been deployed there since.

Moldova, a poor country of 2.6 million people with a sizeable Russian minority, has taken a pro-Western turn in recent years, angering Moscow.

After the launch of the full-scale offensive against Ukraine a year ago, the Kremlin has been accused of raising tensions in Transnistria to destabilise Ukraine and Moldova.

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