EU sees signs China supplying dual-use components to Russia, Dombrovskis says

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Leuven

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The European Union sees signs that China is supplying components to Russia that could be used to make weapons, and fears China could be emboldened to increase shipments if the West's resolve to oppose Russia's war in Ukraine weakens, a top EU official said on Thursday.

Valdis Dombrovskis, executive vice president of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said he was meeting with U.S. lawmakers during his visit to Washington to underscore the importance of approving long-delayed U.S. aid to Ukraine.

U.S. officials briefed reporters last week on materials China was providing to Russia -- including drone and missile technology, satellite imagery and machine tools -- that fall short of providing lethal assistance but were helping Russia build up its military to sustain its two-year-old war in Ukraine.

Dombrovskis told a Council on Foreign Relations event that the EU was working with the United States to crack down on evasion of sanctions against Russia, but gave no details.

He said the EU had concerns about China's actions regarding Ukraine, particularly recent indications that it was shipping components to Russia.

"We see that China is sitting on the fence and looking how to use this situation to its advantage, but unfortunately, recently, we also see signs of China actually supplying components, all kinds of equipment to Russia."

He said the equipment involved dual-use items, not actual weapons, but the actions showed how important it was to shore up Western resolve to support Ukraine.

He said that if the West "is not showing the necessary resolve in stopping this Russian aggression, putting sanctions on Russia, providing all necessary support to Ukraine ... it's very dangerous and it will have very negative consequences."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to raise similar concerns during his upcoming visit to China, a State Department spokesperson said this week.

The U.S. has warned China not to aid Moscow's war effort since Russia's full scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, which came just weeks after Russia and China declared a "no limits partnership."

A Chinese embassy spokesperson has said that China is not a party to the Ukraine crisis and that normal trade between China and Russia should not be interfered with or restricted.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler)