Blinken lists China among ‘countries of concern’ aiding Russia, blames Hamas for no ceasefire

Washington, June 18 (IANS) US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Tuesday contended that the new set of sanctions announced by Washington on Russia and entities in other countries were aimed at curbing the capability of Russia’s defence industrial base.

He also faulted Hamas for making demands beyond what was in the plan of President Joe Biden, thus, delaying a ceasefire.

On the new anti-Russia sanctions, he said they were meant “to keep the pressure on so that the aggression automatically ends”.

“Among other things, we’re looking at countries that are supporting Russia’s defence industrial base, which is allowing Russia to continue the war, including China… As the President has made clear, we have a real concern, not with weapons being supplied by China to Russia, that’s not what they are doing. What they are doing, as you’ve heard me discuss many times, is providing critical support to Russia’s defence industrial base.”

“Some 70 per cent of the machine tools that Russia is importing are coming from China, 90 per cent of the microelectronics are coming from China. This has enabled Russia to keep its defence industrial base going, to keep the war machine going, to keep the war going. So that has to stop…” he said, addressing a joint press conference with visiting NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

The top US diplomat also said that North Korea is providing significant munitions to Russia and other weapons for use in Ukraine, while Iran has been providing weaponry, including drones, that have been used against civilians and civilian infrastructure.

“All these are countries of concern,” he said, but added that the focus was on China “not in terms of providing weapons, but in providing what Russia needs to keep its defence industrial base going and to produce more tanks, more munitions, and more missiles”.

Blinken also said that the US “is doing everything we can to provide the necessary support to Ukraine beyond the supplemental”, citing the discussions at the G7 summit and beyond to leverage the seized Russian sovereign assets in Europe to provide Ukraine with some $50 billion in additional assistance.

On the situation in Gaza and US assistance to Israel, he said: “Remember that our security relationship with Israel goes well beyond Gaza…”

“Israel is facing a multiplicity of threats and challenges, including in the north from the Hezbollah, from Iran, from the Houthis in the Red Sea, from various groups that are aligned against Israel, and in many cases, beholden to Iran. So, the President was very clear, from day one, that he will do everything he can to make sure that Israel has everything it needs to defend itself from the threats.”

The US Secretary of State also said that a “big part in providing this assistance to Israel is that it has a strong deterrent which is the best way to avoid more conflict, avoid more war, to prevent what we are seeing in Gaza from spreading to more areas”.

He, however, noted, that the US “is continuing to review one shipment that President Biden has talked about, regarding 2,000-pound bombs, because of our concerns about their use in a densely populated area like Rafah. That remains under review”.

“Everything else is moving,” he said.

On the ceasefire negotiations, he noted that the entire world stood behind President Biden’s plans, except Hamas, which came back with new demands and proposals beyond what it had agreed earlier.

“We are seeing if we can bridge the gap… I am confident that we can bridge the gaps, so long as Hamas does not shift the goalposts again,” Blinken said.

–IANS

vd/arm

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