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Biden speaks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping about Russia's war in Ukraine

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Biden speaks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping about Russia's war in Ukraine
U.S. President Joe Biden had a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday.  Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

March 18 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday in a high-stakes phone call during which he was expected to warn the Chinese leader against aiding Russia militarily or financially.

The phone call began just after 9 a.m. EDT Friday and concluded just before 11 a.m., the White House said.

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A White House readout of the conversation said Biden warned Xi against providing material support to Russia amid its "brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians." Biden also expressed his support for a diplomatic resolution to the war.

"The two leaders also agreed on the importance of maintaining open lines of communication, to manage the competition between our two countries," the readout said.

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The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Xi told Biden that "conflict and confrontation are not in anyone's interest, and peace and security are what the international community should treasure the most."

"The world is neither peaceful nor tranquil," Xi said to Biden, according to the ministry. "The Ukraine crisis is not something we want to see."

Xi went on to say that as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the two countries "must not only lead the development of China-U.S. relations on the right track, but also shoulder our due international responsibilities and make efforts for world peace and tranquility."

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China has not denounced Russia's invasion of Ukraine and news reports this week have said Beijing might be looking to support Moscow's war. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier this month that Beijing's relationship with Moscow is "rock-solid."

"We're concerned that they're considering directly assisting Russia with military equipment to use in Ukraine," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a Thursday press conference.

"President Biden will ... make clear that China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia's aggression, and we will not hesitate to impose costs."

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The Russian military has struggled so far with the performance of its air-to-ground and ground-to-ground missiles, according to Pentagon officials. Also, its ground offensive has stalled in parts of Ukraine due to strong resistance from Ukrainian forces and armed civilians.

Russian forces attacked targets in Lviv on Friday, which is in far western Ukraine. In fact, Lviv is about 40 miles from Ukraine's border with Poland, which is a NATO-protected country.

U.S. officials have so far estimated, conservatively, that Russia has lost about 7,000 soldiers since the invasion began Feb. 24.

Biden said during a White House event on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a "violent dictator," a "pure thug" and a "war criminal" for waging an "immoral war" against the Ukrainian people.

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Scenes from the rubble: Russian forces attack Ukraine capital, Kyiv

Ukrainian service members stand beside a damaged building in a residential area after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 18. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo

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