(Washington) The head of the American diplomacy Antony Blinken considered Thursday that the Russian attacks against civilians in Ukraine constituted “war crimes”, and accused Moscow of not making “significant effort” on the diplomatic front.
“Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime. After so much destruction in the past three weeks, I find it difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing anything other than that,” he told a news conference, adding that the legal process to achieve such a formal charge was still pending.
United States President Joe Biden on Wednesday called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a “war criminal”, a charge deemed “unforgivable” by Moscow.
“Yesterday, President Biden said that in his opinion, war crimes had been committed in Ukraine. Personally, I agree,” said Antony Blinken.
“Our experts are documenting and reviewing possible war crimes committed in Ukraine,” he added, promising to share the fruit of this work with international investigations aimed at bringing “to account the responsible”.
Asked about the talks between Russia and Ukraine, which are continuing in parallel with the conflict, the Secretary of State did not hide his skepticism.
“On the one hand, we salute Ukraine for remaining at the negotiating table while it is under bombardment at all times, and on the other hand, I have not seen any significant effort on the part of of Russia to put an end through diplomacy to the war it is waging,” he said.
Warning against China
After a meeting in Rome between senior American and Chinese officials, and on the eve of a phone call between President Biden and his counterpart Xi Jinping, Antony Blinken finally raised his voice significantly with regard to Beijing.
“We are concerned that they plan to directly assist Russia with military equipment that would be used in Ukraine. President Biden will speak to President Xi tomorrow, and make it clear to him that China will bear responsibility for any act to support Russian aggression, and that we will not hesitate to impose costs on it,” he said. affirmed.
He reiterated that China has a “responsibility to use its influence with President Putin and uphold the international rules and principles it says it stands for.”
“But on the contrary, it seems that China is going in the opposite direction by refusing to condemn this aggression, while trying to present itself as a neutral arbiter,” he lamented.
“We see with concern that China is considering giving Russia direct military assistance,” he added.
It is the clearest warning issued by the United States to China since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, and it comes a few hours before a conversation between the American and Chinese presidents, scheduled for Friday.
This meeting, the fourth between the two leaders since Joe Biden is president, aims to “keep the channels of communication open between the United States and the People’s Republic of China”, said in a press release the spokeswoman of the US executive Jen Psaki.
This is a constant concern of the American president, for whom the United States and China are certainly destined to engage in ruthless competition, but by maintaining sufficient dialogue so that this confrontation is not a source of chaos at the international level.
The two leaders will discuss this “competition” between Washington and Beijing “as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of common interest,” said Jen Psaki.
The United States has therefore raised its tone even further, having already considered “deeply worrying” the position of “China’s alignment with Russia” in the face of the war in Ukraine, after a very long recent meeting in Rome between the US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Yang Jiechi, the Chinese Communist Party’s top diplomat.
“Friendship Without Limits”
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24, the Chinese communist regime, prioritizing its relationship with Moscow and sharing with Russia a deep hostility towards the United States, has refrained from calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw his troops from Ukraine.
But the “boundless friendship” professed by Beijing and Moscow is being tested by the war in Ukraine, with President Xi Jinping’s regime appearing to have been taken aback by Ukrainian resistance to the Russian offensive and the strength of sanctions Western.
Beyond the question of possible military assistance to Russia, Washington does not want China to help Moscow mitigate the impact of these unprecedentedly harsh sanctions, which are supposed to strangle the Vladimir regime financially and economically. Putin.
“President Biden’s priority (during the conversation) will be to ask China not to give Russia the means to offset international sanctions, and not to send equipment for the Russian war machine to Ukraine”, Ryan Hass, an expert at the Brookings Research Institute and former adviser to President Barack Obama on China, told AFP.
Xi Jinping for his part “must arbitrate between various priorities. He attaches great importance to the partnership with Russia, but he does not want to undermine relations with the West”, on which China depends “for its access to certain advanced technologies”, he underlines.
“The interests of China and Russia are not aligned. Putin wants to dynamite the international system while President Xi sees himself as the architect of a new international order”, further analyzes the expert.