BEIJING: China on Thursday warned NATO against “provoking confrontation” over its ties with Russia, after the alliance accused it of playing a key role in helping Moscow’s assault on Ukraine.

NATO leaders said in a declaration from their summit in Washington on Wednesday that China had “become a decisive enabler of Russia’s war against Ukraine”.

It said Beijing’s “so-called ‘no limits’ partnership” and “large-scale support for Russia’s defence industrial base” were of “profound concern”.

In response, a spokesperson for Beijing’s mission to the European Union said: “NATO should stop hyping up the so-called China threat and provoking confrontation and rivalry, and do more to contribute to world peace and stability.”

“It is known to all that China is not the creator (of) the Ukraine crisis. China’s position on Ukraine is open and aboveboard,“ they added.

China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion and last year released a paper calling for a “political settlement” to the conflict, which Western countries said could enable Russia to retain much of the territory it has seized in Ukraine.

China and Russia’s strategic partnership has grown closer since the invasion.

Beijing presents itself as a neutral party in the war and says it is not sending lethal assistance to either side, unlike the United States and other Western nations.

It has however offered a critical lifeline to Russia’s isolated economy, with trade booming since the conflict began.

But that economic partnership has come under close scrutiny from the West in recent months, with Washington vowing to go after financial institutions that facilitate Moscow’s war effort.

The United States and Europe have also accused Beijing of selling components and equipment necessary to keep Moscow’s military production afloat.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in April this included “machine tools, semiconductors, other dual-use items that have helped Russia rebuild the defence industrial base that sanctions and export controls had done so much to degrade”.

Beijing has denied claims it is aiding Russia’s fighting in Ukraine and insisted it won’t accept “criticism or pressure” over its ties with Moscow.