BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union's foreign policy chief on Tuesday lashed out at China for its support of Russia amid the invasion of Ukraine and called it "a blatant violation" of Beijing's United Nations commitments.
"There cannot be siding with the aggressor," Josep Borrell said. "There is a clear expectation from a permanent member of the (U.N.) Security Council to stand up in defense of international rules-based order and China as a moral duty to contribute to a fair peace."
Standing alongside visiting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Borrell was forceful in his condemnation of a nation that has increasingly moved from being a partner to being a rival on the global stage.
The comments come just ahead of a visit of EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen together with French President Emmanuel Macron to China, where both will press the point that EU-China relations will pivot on Beijing's friendship with Russia.
Macron and von der Leyen are set to warn China against sending weapons to Russia during talks with President Xi Jinping on Thursday.
Even if Beijing says it is neutral in the war, Xi's visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow two weeks ago had all the visuals and speeches of a meeting among trusted friends.
"They agreed on the need to not deploy nuclear arms abroad," Borrell said of the Moscow meeting. "Some days later, Russia deployed tactical weapons, nuclear tactical weapons in Belarus," he added, referring to an announcement by Putin of plans to deploy such weapons.
Borrell said he was looking for a change of heart in Beijing if relations were not to deteriorate.
"We have been clear with China that its position on Russia's atrocities and war crimes will determine the quality of our relations with Beijing," he said.