Group of Seven member states are discussing whether to sanction companies in China, Iran and North Korea they believe are providing Russia with parts and technology that have military purposes, according to people familiar with the matter.
The aim is to coordinate a package of measures by Feb. 24, the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing sensitive matters.
The discussions are still in the formative stage, and actions taken by each G-7 state might not be the same, one of the people said. The companies that might be included are also still being decided, the people said.
Spokespeople for the White House National Security Council declined to comment.
Any action would reflect efforts by the G-7 to disrupt the flow of material with military purposes to Russia via third countries that aren’t signed up to the sanctions imposed in the aftermath of its invasion. There’s concern that companies may be helping Russia skirt sanctions, the people said.
The US already has raised concern with China about non-lethal equipment provided to Russia, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken was going to pursue the issue on a trip to Beijing that was postponed after an alleged Chinese spy balloon was spotted crossing the US.
China previously hit back at claims some of its state-owned firms may be helping Russia’s war in Ukraine, saying Washington should stop sending weapons if it wants the conflict to end. China “would never add fuel to the fire, still less exploit the crisis,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said in late January.
Still, China’s strategic partnership with Russia has momentum and will continue to grow, the government said this month after Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu visited Russia.
China has repeatedly asserted its right to maintain trade with Russia since the war started. In March, the Asian nation’s ambassador to Moscow, Zhang Hanhui, told about a dozen business heads in Russia to waste no time and “fill the void” in the local market.
Then on Monday, the ambassador in Paris, Lu Shaye, responded to a French interviewer’s question over whether Chinese companies were selling Russia spare parts that could be used in the war effort by saying: “But parts are not weapons, are they?”
Lu also reiterated that China was not supplying weapons to Russia.
Ukraine’s allies already have sanctioned Iranian firms allegedly supplying Russia with drones and are now looking to expand those measures. They have also called out North Korea for providing Moscow with ammunition. Both Iran and North Korea deny aiding Russia in its war. Some G-7 nations believe that Chinese firms are selling technological components, such as microchips, that are benefiting Russia militarily.
Diplomatic efforts are also underway to address any possible loopholes on the sanctions that Russia may be exploiting, with equipment potentially flowing through countries including the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and India.
--With assistance from Philip Glamann.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.