WASHINGTON, Feb 25 (AFP) - US President Joe Biden said Friday that he does not "anticipate a major initiative" from China to provide weapons to Russia in its war against Ukraine.
His comments come days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS that China was "considering providing lethal support" to Moscow ranging "from ammunition to the weapons themselves" -- which Beijing denied.
In a wide-ranging television interview with ABC News -- covering his bid for re-election and the war in Ukraine -- that aired Friday evening, Biden appeared to backtrack on Blinken's comments.
"I don't anticipate -- we haven't seen it yet -- but I don't anticipate a major initiative on the part of China providing weaponry to Russia," he said.
Biden explained that in a conversation he had with Chinese President Xi Jinping last summer, he made clear what the consequences of providing weapons to Russia would be.
"Without any government prodding, 600 American corporations left Russia -- from McDonald's to Exxon -- across the board," he said he told Xi.
"And I said, 'If you are engaged in the same kind of brutality, of supporting the brutality that is going on, you may face the same consequences.'"
When pressed on whether China would be "crossing a line" if Beijing were to provide weapons to Russia, Biden said the United States "would respond."
"It would be the same line everyone else would have crossed. In other words, we would impose severe sanctions on anyone who has done it."
Ukraine's allies have sought to use sanctions and trade bans to choke off Russia's ability to acquire more weapons or produce them domestically using imported components.
On Friday, the first anniversary of Russia's invasion, leaders of the Group of 7 industrialized nations said any country abetting Moscow by providing "material support" in its war would "face severe costs."