China to provide Ukraine about $1m in aid: Official

The first shipment is already on its way, though China has yet to condemn Russia's invasion of the country. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - Beijing said on Wednesday (March 9) it will provide war-torn Ukraine with about US$790,000 (S$1 million) in humanitarian aid, with the first shipment already on its way, though China has yet to condemn Russia's invasion of the country.

China has repeatedly blamed Nato's "eastward expansion" for worsening tensions between Russia and Ukraine, echoing the Kremlin's prime security grievance while refusing to criticise Moscow's decision to send troops across the border.

But a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping told his French and German counterparts China was "deeply grieved" by the outbreak of war in Europe, the first shipment of aid to the country of 44 million people had been sent, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

"At the request of the Ukrainian side, the Red Cross Society of China will provide a batch of humanitarian aid... including food and daily necessities, worth five million yuan (S$1 million)," ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

Xi also urged "maximum restraint" to avoid a "humanitarian crisis" during his Tuesday video summit with France's Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Olaf Scholz.

Since Russian troops entered Ukraine on Feb 24, they have advanced into the country on multiple fronts, shelling key cities and forcing large-scale evacuations.

The war has sent around 2.2 million refugees across Ukraine's borders in what the UN has called Europe's fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II, sparking fears of a wider conflict.

Zhao told reporters on Wednesday that Nato's expansion had pushed things to a "breaking point".

Follow The Straits Times' live coverage on the Ukraine crisis here.

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