After warnings from the Biden administration that China was considering whether to provide Russia with lethal aid in their war in Ukraine, the White House national security adviser said Sunday that they “at this point” did not see “they take the step of providing weapons.” to Moscow.
“We’re watching very closely,” Jake Sullivan told ABC’s “This Week” Martha Raddatz. “We know they haven’t taken it off the table. And we’re sending a clear message, like our European allies, that this would be a real mistake because these weapons are going to be used to bomb cities and kill civilians, and China shouldn’t want any part of that.”
Sullivan said it’s hard to say whether China is “reversing or reversing” the decision, but “what I can say is, so far, we haven’t seen them do that.”
Chinese officials defended their relationship with Russia as “based on non-alliance, non-confrontation, and non-targeting of third countries.”
But President Joe Biden told ABC correspondent David Muir in an interview last week that the United States was ready to respond if Beijing moved forward with arms.
Sullivan said on “This Week” that Biden has ruled out giving Ukraine F-16s “for now,” despite repeated requests from President Volodymyr Zelensky. Call it a “question for later.”
Sullivan said the US government’s focus right now is to help the Ukrainians “reclaim territory on the ground” in its southern and eastern regions.
When asked if the US could offer F-16s in the future, Sullivan reiterated that the White House was prioritizing the immediate needs of this war and would continue to do so.
“At every stage of this war, the president has tried to make sure that the Ukrainian military gets what it needs. In the first stage, when they were defending Kiev, those were Javelin anti-tank weapons and Stinger anti-aircraft systems. It worked. It helped Ukraine defend Kiev. In the second phase, it’s the heavy artillery to help them hold their ground against the Russians pushing into eastern Ukraine. At this point, the critical component is ground maneuverability. That means tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, and infantry fighting vehicles,” Sullivan said. The main thing is that he’s focused on those capabilities.”
After further lobbying by Raddatz on the possibility that the United States might eventually approve fighter jets — a move supported not only by Zelensky but some prominent lawmakers such as House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul — Sullivan told her, “We’re going to cross the bridge of future stages of This war when they come.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Raddatz a week ago, on “This Week,” that one of the reasons Biden has not provided Ukraine with the F-16s is because of the necessary training and maintenance.
“So why don’t we let them know now? So if they need them, if you want to agree to that in the future, they’ll be ready to go,” Raddatz told Sullivan.
“From our point of view, the most important thing we can do is make sure we keep the focus on what’s the top priority and honestly, Martha, the top priority right now is moving as quickly as we can to build up their capacity to — occupy those parts of Ukraine that are still occupied by forces.” Russian brutally and bloody. “We expect that to be a primary focus for Ukrainians as well as our support for Ukrainians in the coming weeks and months.”
In January, Biden agreed to send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, but Army Secretary Christine Wermut said last week that those vehicles may not reach the country this year.
“How is that useful if you don’t agree to them in time and get up to speed to get things like that out there?” asked Raddatz on “This Week.”
Sullivan defended the decision, saying the launch of the Abrams tanks was coordinated with Germany as a prerequisite for them sending German-made Leopard tanks onto the battlefield, which would arrive more quickly.
He said this was “an example of Joe Biden mobilizing the global coalition to get Ukraine what it needs.”
The chief said, “Well, I’ll be the leader of the free world, and I’ll send Abrams on the road if you send the Panthers now.” “
Separately, in the aftermath of the shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over US airspace and three unidentified flying objects over North America, there have been no further instances in which the military has shot down any potential threats.
Raddatz asked if this was because the radar had recalculated again, but Sullivan said the NORAD commander “didn’t reset our radar.”
“We continue to be wary of unidentified objects entering US soil,” he said. “What we’ve done at President Biden’s direction, Martha, is put in place a set of policy standards for when we take deadly action against something, to bring it down, rather than dealing with it in other ways.”
Government officials said the “main explanation” for the three additional objects was that they were commercial or civilian balloons.
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