blinken says he warned china against providing arms to russia

Josep Borrell Fontelles told international leaders meeting in Munich that Western allies’ recent decision to provide Ukraine with tanks took too long.

The European Union’s top diplomat said on Sunday that Western nations must quickly increase their military support for Ukraine, rebuking the delays in providing weapons as the war enters what he called a “critical moment” and as the anniversary of Russia’s invasion approaches.

The diplomat, Josep Borrell Fontelles, the E.U.’s foreign policy chief, told a gathering of international leaders in Munich that praise and promises for President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine were not enough. “There needs to be less applause and better supply with arms,” Mr. Borrell said, adding that “much more has to be done, and much quicker.”

His appeal came near the conclusion of the three-day annual Munich Security Conference, where Western officials doubled down on their resolve to support Kyiv as Russia tries to step up a new offensive in eastern Ukraine and with the war reaching the one-year mark on Friday.

The Biden administration continued to warn Russia’s allies against providing military support to Moscow. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in an interview that he used a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Munich to express U.S. concerns that China was “considering providing lethal support to Russia” in the war.

“And I was able to share with him, as President Biden had shared with President Xi, the serious consequences that would have for our relationship,” Mr. Blinken told CBS News, according to an excerpt from the interview released ahead of its airing on Sunday.

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Amid concerns over whether Western unity can endure as the war drags on, the United States and its European partners at the gathering sought to project resolve, largely repeating pledges to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. Mr. Blinken said that he was “motivated by the accomplishments” allies have made in support of Ukraine, writing on Twitter on Sunday: “We will remain unified and see victory for Ukrainians fighting for their country’s fate.”

President Biden is scheduled to travel to Ukraine’s neighbor, Poland, to deliver a speech on Tuesday to observe the anniversary of Russia’s invasion. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is expected to deliver a speech on the same day.

With Russia trying to escalate an offensive in eastern Ukraine, Kyiv’s allies have been working to come up with ways to provide additional military support. After lengthy discussions, allies recently pledged to begin sending battle tanks to Ukraine, a decision that Mr. Borrell said had taken too much time.

“Everybody knows that in order to win a war” you need tanks, he told the conference.

Mr. Zelensky, in an opening address to the conference on Friday, warned his allies against “fatigue” and emphasized that speed was critical if his country were to hold off a renewed Russian onslaught. In an address late Saturday, Mr. Zelensky said that he was “grateful” for the “important statements” of support from Western officials in Munich.

“We received strong signals from our partners, and concrete agreements regarding the inevitability of holding Russia accountable for aggression, for terror against Ukraine and its people,” he said.

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Russia responded sharply to Vice President Kamala Harris, who told the conference on Saturday that the United States had determined that Moscow had committed “crimes against humanity” in Ukraine and pledged to hold accountable “all those who have perpetrated these crimes,” as well as their superiors.

In a statement later Saturday, Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to Washington, dismissed the comments “as an attempt, unprecedented in terms of its cynicism, to demonize Russia.”

Experts warn that any legal process to investigate and prosecute crimes against humanity would be long and tedious, with arrests or convictions far from assured. And while Mr. Zelensky’s allies have supplied Ukraine with ever more powerful weapons, it is not clear that his latest pleas — including for fighter jets and long-range missiles — will be met by Western leaders wary of provoking Russia into further aggression.

China, Russia’s most influential partner, delivered a typically calibrated message at the conference. Mr. Wang, China’s top diplomat, told the gathering that “nuclear wars must not be fought,” a potential signal to Moscow that China will not tolerate the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, as Russian officials have at times threatened.

At the same time, Mr. Wang sought to deflect blame for the war away from Russia, arguing that “some forces might not want to see peace talks” and “might have strategic goals larger than Ukraine itself.” That language echoed Kremlin claims, rejected by the West, that Moscow was willing to engage in good-faith peace talks and that NATO aimed to subjugate Russia.

He met Saturday evening with Mr. Blinken, in the first high-level diplomatic exchange between the two sides since the U.S. response to a recent Chinese spy balloon overflight.

A detailed readout of the meeting between the two top officials by Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, did not mention any discussions about Russia and Ukraine. It did say that Mr. Wang criticized U.S. leaders for “using all means to block and suppress China.”

Ukrainian officials have been warning of a potential Russian escalation timed to the first anniversary of the invasion and heavy fighting was reported Sunday around the city of Kreminna, a small but vital pocket of land in the Donbas region.

Serhiy Haidai, the head of the regional military administration, called the situation around Kreminna “difficult” and said shelling was constant. “Russians are trying to find a spot to penetrate our defenses,” he told Ukrainian television.

Elsewhere, Russian shelling killed a family of three people and wounded at least four other people in the southern region of Kherson, local officials said.

Edward Wong contributed reporting.

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