CHINA is willing to send weapons to Russia to help its invasion, the US warned.
And Beijing was warned it would face isolation and penalties if it helped Moscow as WW3 fears grow.
It came after US national security adviser Jake Sullivan met Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome.
Washington told allies in NATO and several Asian countries that China signalled a willingness to provide military and economic support to Russia, but is expected to deny the plans.
One US official said: “It’s real, it’s consequential and it’s really alarming.”
The White House said: "We have deep concerns about China's alignment with Russia at this time, and the national security adviser was direct about those concerns and the potential implications and consequences of certain actions."
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Chinese companies defying U.S. restrictions on exports to Russia may be cut off from American equipment and software they need to make their products, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said last week.
But Yang said China was committed to resolving the conflict, adding: "China firmly opposes any words and deeds that spread false information and distort and smear China's position."
Ryan Hass of the Brookings Institution said Chinese support for Russia "would considerably narrow its path for preserving non-hostile relations with the United States and the West".
It comes after Russia reportedly asked China for help last month with its Ukraine invasion.
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Vladimir Putin's side is believed to have asked Chinese president Xi Jinping for both military equipment and support after its February 24 invasion.
Several U.S. officials have since said Beijing could undermine Western efforts to help Ukraine, the New York Times reports.
And Mr Sullivan said Washington believed China knew Russia was planning to invade Ukraine before it did.
He also warned Beijing would "absolutely" face consequences if it offered Russia support.
He told CNN: "We are communicating directly, privately to Beijing, that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them."
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