Russia has asked China for support in its war against Ukraine, according to two U.S. officials. The request included military aid and equipment, but it's not clear what specifically Moscow has requested.
Almost three weeks into its invasion into Ukraine, Russia has fallen far short of the progress Russian leaders anticipated, according to defense and intelligence officials. CIA Director William Burns told Congress last week that Russian President Vladimir Putin had counted on "seizing Kyiv within the first two days of the campaign."
U.S. officials say that Russia's casualties range from 5,000 to 9,000 killed in action.
At this point, the Kremlin has committed 100% of the more than 150,000 troops it had pre-arrayed around Ukraine's borders prior to its invasion. Despite the high numbers, the Russian advance on Kyiv from three separate directions has made slow progress towards Ukraine's capital, with days when the troops remain stalled and sitting targets for Ukrainians.
The slow advance may have prompted the Russian request for China's help.
According to the Pentagon's recent Chinese Military Power report, China's military purchases from Russia include fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles, and it has participated in training exercises in Russia using Russian equipment.
China denied that Russia has asked for military aid for its Ukraine war.
"The U.S. has been maliciously spreading disinformation targeting China," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Monday in response to the report. "China's position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. We have been playing a constructive part in promoting peace talks."
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also denied the report, telling reporters that Moscow has the ability to potential to continue a special military operation independently in Ukraine and did not ask for help from China.
"No," Peskov told reporters when asked if it was true that Russia had asked China for military assistance. "Russia has an independent potential to continue the operation, and, as we said, it is developing according to plan and will be completed on time and in full," he said.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan is traveling to Rome Monday for a meeting with Chinese Communist Party Politburo Member and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission Yang Jiechi. The meeting was described by the National Security Council as a part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication between the countries.
A Pentagon official on Monday said that if China does choose to materially support Russia in the war, the Chinese will likely face consequences.