WASHINGTON: A Western intelligence report said senior Chinese officials told senior Russian officials in early February not to invade Ukraine before the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, The New York Times reported citing senior Biden administration officials and a European official.
The report indicates that senior Chinese officials had some level of knowledge about “Russia’s war plans or intentions before the invasion started last week”.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing before the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
Moscow and Beijing issued a 5,000-word statement at the time declaring that their partnership had “no limits,” denouncing NATO enlargement and asserting that they would establish a new global order with true “democracy,” The NYT reported.
China held the closing ceremony of the Olympics on February 20. The next day, Putin ordered more Russian troops to enter an insurgent-controlled area of eastern Ukraine after state television broadcast a meeting between him and his national security council and a long speech in which he said Ukraine should be a part of Russia rather than existing as a country, said the NYT report.
Early on February 24, the Russian military began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, including carrying out attacks on Ukrainian cities with ballistic missiles, artillery shells and tank units.
China and Russia have been strengthening their economic, diplomatic and military ties for years. Xi and Putin met 37 times as national leaders before their discussions in Beijing ahead of the Olympics, The NYT reproted.
It further said that the ambitious joint statement that the two nations issued during that meeting alarmed American and European officials, especially because it was the first time China had explicitly sided with Russia on issues concerning NATO and European security.
Since the tensions between Ukraine and Russia rages on, Chinese officials have consistently aligned with Russia. They have expressed support for Russia’s concerns about NATO and said Russian and Ukrainian officials should have negotiations.
Spokespeople for the Chinese Foreign Ministry have refused to call Russia’s actions an “invasion” and blamed the United States for inflaming tensions around Ukraine, The NYT reported.
According to the NYT report, Chinese officials have also criticized the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and European nations.
American and European officials are watching China closely to see whether it will help Russia evade sanctions.
Before the invasion, Beijing and Moscow announced a 30-year contract for China to buy gas through a new pipeline. China has also lifted restrictions on the import of Russian wheat. But U.S. officials expect the large Chinese state-owned banks to avoid openly violating the sanctions on Russia for fear of jeopardizing their own global commercial activities, The NYT reported. (ANI)