China has not yet sent weapons to Russia to replenish stockpiles that have been exhausted due to Moscow’s war in Ukraine, United States President Joe Biden said.
“I’ve been hearing now for the past three months (that) China is going to provide significant weapons to Russia… They haven’t yet. Doesn’t mean they won’t but they haven’t yet,” Biden told a news conference on Friday during a visit to Canada.
“I don’t take China lightly. I don’t take Russia lightly,” he said, while also suggesting that reports of rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing had probably been “exaggerated”.
During a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow this week, the Russian and Chinese leaders hailed “the special nature” of their relations but Beijing did not commit to providing support for Russia’s depleted forces in Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also dismissed deepening ties between China and Russia as a “marriage of convenience” earlier this week.
Blinken said Russia is “very much the junior partner” in the relationship and noted that China had so far declined to provide weapons to Moscow for its war in Ukraine.
“As we speak today, we have not seen them cross that line,” Blinken said of China.
Russian weapons manufacturing took centre stage on Thursday when former President Dmitry Medvedev read a menacing 1941 telegram from Soviet dictator Josef Stalin aloud to Russia’s arms manufacturing leaders – apparently in a bid to boost domestic arms production.
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, shared a video on Friday of Medvedev reading from Stalin’s World War II-era telegram during a meeting with subordinates and Russia’s national armaments commission.
“If it turns out in a few days that you are violating your duty to your fatherland, I will start smashing you as criminals who have disregarded the honour and interests of your fatherland,” Medvedev read from a printed copy of Stalin’s 1941 letter to a factory demanding quicker production of tank parts.
“It is unacceptable that our troops are suffering at the front from the lack of tanks, while you, in the distant rear, are lazing about and loafing,” he read out.
Dmitriy Medvedev read Stalin's old telegram to his subordinates. Hinting at repeating Stalin's methods? pic.twitter.com/Zt0ybPkT2B
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) March 24, 2023
Medvedev, who is now the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, then turned to the group of armaments industry leaders and said: “Colleagues, I want you to listen to me and remember the words of the generalissimo”.
Medvedev, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is a particularly fervent and enthusiastic supporter of Moscow’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
Several Russian media outlets reported on his decision to quote Stalin and to publish a video of him addressing the officials. Medvedev also posted excerpts from an interview with Russian journalists in which he claims Russia is actually fighting a war against all of NATO.
Yevgeny Prigozhin – the founder of the Wagner mercenary force fighting for Russia against Ukraine – has engaged in weeks of a bitter and public feud with Russia’s top army brass of the lack of ammunition delivered to his forces who are leading the fight for the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
The Wagner boss accused the Russian Defence Ministry of deliberately denying his fighters ammunition in what he called a treasonous attempt to destroy the mercenary group.