NATO Coalition Calls on China to Oppose Russia's War in Ukraine

NATO leaders are calling on China to openly oppose Russia's "brutal war" in Ukraine, alliance head Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday, after a special summit that discussed "Beijing's role in the crisis."

A coalition of the world's largest economic and military powers has gathered in Brussels this week for meetings that will also involve the European Union and the Group of Seven. The Western allies pledged additional military support for Kyiv, but their troops will stay out of Ukrainian territory so as to avoid a "full-fledged" clash between NATO and Russian forces, the secretary general said.

At a short press conference following a meeting with heads of state including President Joe Biden, Stoltenberg said alliance leaders "called on China to refrain from supporting Russia's war effort."

"China must not provide economic or military support for the Russian invasion. Instead, Beijing should use its significant influence on Russia and promote an immediate peaceful resolution," he said.

China has criticized the West's sweeping sanctions, which continue to target not only key sectors of Russia's economy, but also its leaders, oligarchs and others close to the Kremlin. Beijing says it will continue to trade with Moscow, but insists it has no plans to supply Vladimir Putin with material support.

Diplomatic and Political Cover

Governments including the United States see the Chinese leadership as continuing to provide significant diplomatic and political cover for Russia on the international stage, at the same time as the West tries to further isolate Putin in a bid to persuade him to end his month-long military offensive.

"Our message to China is that they should join the rest of the world and clearly condemn the brutal war against Ukraine, and not support Russia, neither with economic support or, of course, not with military support," said Stoltenberg.

In a joint statement released by the 30 NATO allies, the leaders urged countries including China to "uphold the international order including the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, as enshrined in the UN Charter, to abstain from supporting Russia's war effort in any way, and to refrain from any action that helps Russia circumvent sanctions."

"We are concerned by recent public comments by [Chinese] officials and call on China to cease amplifying the Kremlin's false narratives, in particular on the war and on NATO, and to promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict," the statement said.

At a regular media briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the accusation that China was spreading disinformation about Ukraine "is in itself disinformation."

A day before NATO's extraordinary summit began, Stoltenberg said Western leaders would ask China to "live up to its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council.

Putin's decision to launch the largest war on the European continent since 1945 has breathed new life into NATO. Stoltenberg calls it "the most serious security crisis in a generation."

Following what he described as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's "impassioned message" to the alliance leader, Stoltenberg said NATO would provide more support, but noted he would not disclose when, what or how.

At the summit, the leaders agreed to form four additional battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, bringing the number of similar groupings of coalition troops to eight on NATO's eastern flank. "From the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea," Stoltenberg said. These include the 100,000 U.S. troops already stationed across Europe.

Stoltenberg said NATO would place "substantially more" ground forces on the alliance's eastern flank, and "at a higher readiness." In the air and at sea, more jets as well as carrier strike groups, submarines and combat ships will be deployed "on a persistent basis," he concluded.

NATO Warns China to Stop Supporting Russia
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2022. Stoltenberg sent a message to Beijing and asked the Chinese leadership to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and refrain from providing political, economic or military support to Moscow. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images