Home News Ukraine live briefing: China to host Kremlin ally Lukashenko amid worries about...

Ukraine live briefing: China to host Kremlin ally Lukashenko amid worries about Beijing’s stance on the war


China is set this week to host Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko — a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — amid increasing international scrutiny of Beijing’s stance on the war in Ukraine and warnings from Washington that it could be gearing up to supply Moscow with lethal aid.

While Western countries have lined up to support Ukraine with words and weapons, Beijing insists it is neutral in the conflict. U.S. officials have told The Washington Post that Beijing is considering providing the Kremlin with artillery shells, a move that could alter the war’s trajectory in Moscow’s favor.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Key developments

  • Lukashenko is visiting China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, according to China’s Foreign Ministry. In a phone call ahead of the visit, which starts Tuesday, the foreign ministers of China and Belarus “exchanged views on the Ukraine crisis,” according to a Chinese readout of the call. Lukashenko and Xi will discuss how to enhance economic and geopolitical cooperation between their countries, Belarusian state-owned media reported.
  • The United States hopes to deter China from supplying Russia with lethal weaponry, CIA Director William J. Burns said in a television interview. “We’re confident that the Chinese leadership is considering the provision of lethal equipment,” Burns told CBS’s “Face the Nation,” adding that intelligence officials had not yet seen evidence of equipment being shipped and did not believe a final decision had been made.
  • President Biden has ruled out sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in the immediate term, despite growing pressure from Kyiv. Biden told ABC News that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “doesn’t need F-16s now.”
  • Putin said any negotiations to resume the New START accord should take into account Britain and France’s nuclear arsenals — as well as tally those of the United States and Russia. Last week, Moscow said it was “suspending” its participation in New START, the only remaining nuclear arms control pact it has with Washington — which London and Paris are not parties to. In an interview with the state-owned Rossiya 1 channel, which will be aired in full on Sunday, Putin suggested that discounting the French and British arsenals was unfair to Russia.
  • Ukraine’s postal service issued stamps featuring a Banksy mural of a child throwing down a man resembling Putin in a judo match. The stamp, which were released to mark the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion, is meant to symbolize Ukraine’s unexpected strength in its war against Russia, Ukrposhta said. Putin holds a black belt in the sport.

Battleground updates

  • Russian forces are making “marginal territorial gains” around the front-line cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, in the eastern Donetsk region, according to the latest battleground report by the Institute for the Study of War think tank.
  • British defense officials identified a cluster of 10 destroyed Russian armored vehicles outside the besieged town of Vuhledar in newly released satellite imagery. The vehicles were probably part of Russia’s 155th Naval Infantry Brigade, an elite force that has been “backfilled with inexperienced mobilized personnel,” the U.K. Defense Ministry said in a Sunday update. Russian forces embarked on a renewed push this month to retake Vuhledar, a mostly deserted coal-mining city in Donetsk, 70 miles southwest of Bakhmut.
  • The threat of Russian missile attacks across Ukraine remains high, according to the Ukrainian military. Russian forces waged 10 attacks using multiple-rocket launchers on Saturday, in addition to six missile strikes and five airstrikes, Ukraine’s armed forces said.
  • An American veteran fighting in Ukraine was killed in action on Feb. 16, his family told The Post. Andrew Peters, 28, arrived in Ukraine in November to join the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine, said his father, John Peters.

Global impact

  • Chinese and Russian diplomats refused to sign a statement condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, meaning a two-day gathering of Group of 20 finance ministers in India ended without the usual joint communique. Chinese and Russian officials refused to approve two paragraphs in the statement: one urging a complete and unconditional Russian withdrawal from Ukraine and the second restating the signatories’ commitment to upholding international law during armed conflicts.
  • Belarus could mobilize 1.5 million of its citizens in the event of war, Secretary of the Belarusian Security Council Alexander Volfovich said, according to state-run Belta news. Belarus has a population of about 9.4 million. Earlier this month, Lukashenko, who has allowed his country to be used as a staging ground for Russia’s war, said he would send troops to Ukraine only if Belarus is attacked.
  • About 10,000 people turned out in Berlin to protest the West’s provision of weapons to Ukraine, as Russia’s invasion enters its second year. “Negotiating does not mean surrendering,” the organizers of the demonstration said on their website, calling on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to “stop the escalation in arms deliveries” and lead cease-fire and peace talks.
  • WNBA star Brittney Griner, who spent nearly 10 months imprisoned in Russia on charges of marijuana possession, made an appearance at the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, thanking those who helped secure her release and saying: “Let’s keep fighting to bring home every American still detained overseas.” Griner was arrested last February, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine.

From our correspondents

Discreetly, and at peril, Russian volunteers help Ukrainian refugees: A secret, loosely connected network of volunteers is helping Ukrainians in Russia flee to Europe. But the Kremlin’s special services are cracking down, Mary Ilyushina and Ksenia Ivanova report.

“In our country, any volunteer organization or any kind of attempt to self-organize is like a red rag for a bull,” said a Ukrainian-born volunteer in her late 50s who has lived in Russia for most of her life and has a Russian passport. She was at a stop along the snowy highway on her way to bring nine Ukrainians to the Finnish border from St. Petersburg.