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Ukraine round-up: Biden clashes with China, Nato members call for escalation

Western escalation—whether a no-fly zone or arms—is not the answer to Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine
Issue 2797
Joe Biden against a black background illustrating a article on Ukraine and his threats to china

US president Joe Biden threatens retaliation against China

The Nato military alliance, led by the US, is recklessly moving from the possibility of war with one nuclear-armed power to the possibility of war with two.

US president Joe Biden, fresh from ramping up hostilities with Russia, has now taken on China. He warned Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a telephone call on Friday that the US could retaliate against China if he acts to support Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. 

According to a White House account of the call, Biden “described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia”. Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, had said Biden would “make clear that China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia’s aggression, and we will not hesitate to impose costs”.

According to an account of the call from China, Xi asked Biden for a “cool-headed and rational” approach to the conflict. Neither Biden nor Xi back the interests of ordinary people in Ukraine or anywhere else. The relentless escalation of Nato power sees new moves every day that worsen the stampede towards a wider war. The anti-war movement has to condemn Russia’s invasion—but also confront Nato’s moves.

Poland wants Nato troops in Ukraine

The Polish government this week called for a Nato “peace mission” that could be protected by armed forces” to help Ukraine. “This cannot be an unarmed mission,” said vice premier and leader of the ruling conservative party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, during a visit to Kiev.

“I think that we need a peacekeeping mission from Nato, or even possibly from a larger international structure,” he said. He said it would have to be “a mission that will be able to defend itself and that will operate on Ukrainian territory”. “It will be in this country with the agreement of the president and the government of Ukraine and it will not be a defenceless mission,” added Kaczynski.

Lithuania backs a no-fly zone

Lithuania’s parliament unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday pushing for a no-fly zone over Ukraine. It followed its fellow Baltic state Estonia calling for the escalation. which would require shooting down Russian planes and bombing anti-aircraft missiles inside Russia. It is the path to direct war between nuclear-armed states.

The resolution makes Lithuania the third Nato member officially to back a no-fly zone. Estonia’s parliament passed a similar resolution earlier this week, and Slovenia’s prime minister has also publicly called for a no-fly zone.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki repeated on Wednesday that the US doesn’t want a no-fly zone because. “We are not interested in getting into World War III,” she said. But the result is that, to deflect from the no-fly demand, the US promises ever-more weapons for Ukraine. This is escalation by a slightly slower method.

Mariupol theatre horror

Workers evacuated 130 people from the wreckage of a theatre in Mariupol following a Russian airstrike on the southern port city on Friday.

About 1,300 people are believed to be trapped in the basement of the theatre, Ukrainian spokesperson Lyudmyla Denisova said. She said it was difficult to be certain of the number of survivors and she declined to confirm any casualties. “We hope that they will be alive but as of now we have no information about them,” she said during a local television interview.

Slovakia pledges missiles

Slovakia’s defence minister said on Thursday the country was willing to give Ukraine its S-300 surface-to-air missile systems if it receives a “proper replacement.”

At a press conference with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin, defence minister Jaroslav Nad said Slovakia was discussing the S-300s with the US and Ukraine. “We’re willing to do so immediately when we have a proper replacement,” he said. “The only strategic air defence system that we have in Slovakia is the S-300 system.”

Ukraine’s forces are already trained to use the Russian-designed S-300s. Austin said the US would continue to discuss the issue of replacement air systems for Slovakia with its Nato allies. 

Russia on Thursday warned against providing Ukraine with air defence systems. “Such deliveries would be a destabilising factor which will definitely not bring peace to Ukraine,” said Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova. “In the long term, they could have much more dangerous consequences.”

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