NATO Chief Calls for China to Face Consequences for Supporting Russia

Jens Stoltenberg has argued that Beijing must pay a price for helping Russia amid the Ukraine crisis

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has urged for China to face consequences for allegedly supporting Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, stating that Beijing is “fueling” the conflict by supplying microelectronics and other essential components to Moscow.

“The reality is that China is fueling the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II,” Stoltenberg said on Monday during a speech at the Wilson Center in Washington. “At the same time, it wants to maintain good relations with the West. Well, Beijing cannot have it both ways. At some point, unless China changes course, allies need to impose a cost.”

Stoltenberg has repeatedly criticized China since the Ukraine crisis began in February 2022, arguing that Beijing was enabling Russia to fight against Kiev, a “European friend” of NATO. He has made such comments even as NATO states prolonged the conflict by providing hundreds of billions of dollars’ in economic and military aid to Ukraine.

Monday’s rebuke marked some of his most pointed criticism yet, suggesting that NATO may escalate sanctions against China. He also condemned North Korea and Iran for supporting Russia’s defense-industrial complex.

Stoltenberg reiterated an assertion that NATO – a military alliance originally formed against the Soviet Union – needs to become more involved in the Indo-Pacific to counter the “growing alignment between Russia and its authoritarian friends in Asia.” He noted that he invited the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand to next month’s NATO summit in Washington to work together on upholding the “international rules-based order.”

China is providing Russia with semiconductors and other key technologies with military applications, including parts needed to make missiles and tanks, Stoltenberg said. He added that Beijing also has supplied Russia with improved satellite and imaging capabilities. “All of this enables Moscow to inflict more death and destruction on Ukraine, bolster Russia’s defense-industrial base, and evade the impact of sanctions and export controls.”

The NATO chief also addressed his China concerns in an interview with the BBC on Monday. Asked about what the Western military bloc might do about the issue, he said there was an “ongoing conversation” about potential sanctions. “At some stage, we should consider some kind of economic cost if China doesn’t change their behavior,” he said.

Beijing has repeatedly rejected demands from the US and other NATO nations to join in sanctioning and isolating Russia. Chinese leaders have advocated a peace plan to end the fighting and have pointed out that Russia’s legitimate security concerns cannot be ignored.

Earlier this year, the Chinese Foreign Ministry denounced NATO as a “walking war machine that causes chaos wherever it goes.” Beijing has accused NATO of interfering in Asian affairs, saying the bloc is a “terrible monster” and has extended a “black hand” toward the region.