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In Ukraine war, China is helping tilt momentum in Russia’s favor, top U.S. spy says

China has helped shift battlefield dynamics in Russia’s favor in Ukraine by providing it with components and other materials needed to maintain its defense industry, a senior U.S. intelligence official told senators Thursday.

Beijing’s aid comes as Russian forces gradually advance into Ukraine and Moscow attempts to increase pressure on kyiv by bombing the country’s critical infrastructure, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Even though China did not provide Russia with lethal weapons for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, it did provide crucial technology and tools for its military machine, she said.

“China’s supply of dual-use components and hardware to the Russian defense industry is one of several factors that have tilted the battlefield dynamics in Ukraine in favor of Moscow, while also accelerating the rebuilding Russian military strength after its extraordinarily costly invasion,” Haines said.

The move is part of China’s aim to deepen ties with Russia and Iran, she said.

U.S. officials have previously said China provides Russia with dual-use drone and rocket technologies, satellite imagery and machine tools needed for its defense production. Dual use refers to items that can be used for civilian or military purposes.

Regarding the war in Ukraine, Haines said Russian President Vladimir Putin believes current domestic and international trends are working in his favor with respect to the challenges Ukraine faces, including Kiev’s political difficulties as it attempts to ‘obtain additional military aid from the United States. States and Europe.

Still, the war is “unlikely to end anytime soon,” she said.

Although Russia has indicated it is open to peace talks, Putin has given no indication that he is willing to make significant concessions, Haines said.

Russia also remained focused on its attempts to influence and interfere with the U.S. election, she said. Asked by Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, if there were signs of increased Russian activity ahead of the November election, Haines responded: “We continue to see them focus on this and more and more. »

China reluctant to escalate trade war

As for China, Beijing’s leaders appear focused on strengthening its flagging economy and are unlikely to pursue major economic retaliation against the United States, according to Haines.

“We remain of the view… that in the coming months they will likely limit the level of economic retaliation they undertake in order to avoid the domestic costs of such actions,” she said.

“In particular, the significant decline in foreign direct investment in China, down 77.5% in 2023, is likely to prompt the PRC to be more measured in its responses in the absence of an unexpected escalation in the share of the United States, rather than engaging in direct economic retaliation that could result in such negative national economic consequences,” Haines said, using an acronym for the People’s Republic of China.

She added that Chinese President Xi Jinping is “increasingly concerned about the United States’ ability to interfere with China’s technological goals.”

The Biden administration has imposed strict restrictions on the export of semiconductor technology to China, arguing that it could be used to strengthen that country’s military.

Asked about the threat posed by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, Haines said the groups appear to have suspended attacks on U.S. forces in the region, although it is unclear how long this “will last.” break “.

Haines said the groups’ actions would depend in part on the role of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, whose government maintains friendly relations with the United States and neighboring Iran.

A series of retaliatory U.S. airstrikes against militias in Iraq and Syria in February, which followed dozens of attacks by militias against U.S. troops, also helped deter further attacks, Haines said.

“We obviously think that this pause reflects a certain degree of deterrence that has been established over this period,” she said. “But again, these factors can adjust.”

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