BEIJING: China's support for Russia through oil and gas purchases is irking the United States and raising the risk of American retaliation, foreign observers say, though they see no sign Beijing is helping Moscow evade sanctions over its war on Ukraine.

Beijing's importance as a lifeline to Russian President Vladimir Putin rose on Monday after the 27-nation European Union, the main market for fossil fuels that supply most of Moscow's foreign income, agreed to stop most oil purchases.

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