Update(1340ET): The Sunday "revelation" - or at least Biden admin 'official leaks' - claiming that Russia has formally requested military assistance from China amid the Ukraine invasion has been given more detail in a fresh FT report Monday. It was previously said based on unnamed US sources that Moscow had requested military equipment and arms, including drones - alongside economic assistance. The Chinese embassy in the US had quickly denied knowing anything about such a request.
The new FT report cites classified ''cables, which were sent by the US state department to allies in Europe and Asia, did not say whether China had signalled that it would help Russia in the future or if it had already started providing military support. Nor did they say at which point in the conflict Beijing appeared open to offering the help.''
Despite what seems vague assertions and scant evidence, a US defense official in the new FT piece warned China of serious "consequences" if it provides support to Russia:
"If China does choose to materially support Russia in this war, there will likely be consequences for China," the defense official said.
Following the the heels of the new, slightly more detailed reporting on the allegations - and as White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan meets with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, in Rome on Monday, Beijing has issued a new statement.
China's foreign ministry states that it has the "right" to "safeguard" its legitimate interests.
Update(10:45ET): Following what were generally upbeat weekend assessments of how Russia-Ukraine ceasefire talks are going, the fourth round of talks have taken a "pause" after a reported more than five hours in negotiations.
A technical pause has been taken in the negotiations until tomorrow. For additional work in the working subgroups and clarification of individual definitions. Negotiations continue... — Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) March 14, 2022
Ukraine's top negotiator called it a "technical pause" until their planned resumption on Tuesday, but confirmed that "negotiations continue". During Monday's talks President Zelensky had separately announced he plans to give a virtual address to US Congress on Wednesday, which will start in the morning (US time). It will mark his second time to address both the House and Senate together since the commencement of the war on Feb.24.
Zelensky is expected to reiterate his calls for a Western-imposed no-fly zone, and make an appeal for more weapons and aircraft. A letter sent to House and Senate members by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had this to say:
"The Congress, our country and the world are in awe of the people of Ukraine, who have shown extraordinary courage, resilience and determination in the face of Russia’s unprovoked, vicious, and illegal war."
We can expect the message will be somewhere along the lines of "Help Ukraine force Putin into failure and you will avert a larger war" - according to Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba.
This as Western officials and without doubt much of the public are increasingly wary of a WW3 scenario. The Biden administration has stated clearly that it's fully aware a no-fly zone would mean "US planes shooting at Russian jets." It would immediately bring the US and Russia into a direct state of war. "To those abroad scared of being ‘dragged into WWIII’. Ukraine fights back successfully. We need you to help us fight. Provide us with all necessary weapons. Apply more sanctions on Russia and isolate it fully. Help Ukraine force Putin into failure and you will avert a larger war," Kuleba tweeted Monday.