US House Foreign Affairs Committee chair calls Russia-China alliance the biggest threat since World War II

STOCKHOLM: The United States House Foreign Affairs chair said on Friday (Sep 1) that a partnership of the Russian and Chinese leaders worried him, adding: “We have never seen a threat this large-scale to Europe and the Pacific, I would argue, since World War II.”

The alliance of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin provides “very big challenges I think for the free world in this great power competition that we find ourselves in”, said Representative Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, during a visit to Sweden.

Earlier in the year, the Biden administration warned Xi’s government of unspecified consequences if it supports the Kremlin’s war effort in Ukraine.

A US intelligence report said that Beijing possibly provided equipment used in Ukraine that might have military applications.

The report cited Russian customs data that showed Chinese state-owned military contractors supplied navigation equipment, fighter jet parts, drones and other goods, but did not say whether that might trigger US retaliation.

China has stepped up purchases of Russian oil and gas, which helps Putin’s government offset lost sales after the United States, Europe and Japan cut off most purchases of Russian energy.

Beijing can do that without triggering Western sanctions on its own companies, but Washington and its allies are frustrated that it undercuts economic pressure on Moscow.

China rejects Western trade and financial sanctions on Russia because they were not authorised by the United Nations Security Council, where Beijing and Moscow have veto power. However, China has appeared to avoid directly defying those sanctions.

McCaul, who was part of a US congressional delegation visiting Sweden and met with Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom, said that he expects the Nordic country to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by October.

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