Western intelligence reports that the Chinese government asked Russia to delay its planned invasion of Ukraine until after the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing had concluded.
According to CNN, U.S. officials confirmed the findings of the report on Wednesday. The request from China was allegedly made in early February, in the early days of the Olympics; the games ended on February 20th, while Russia’s invasion of Ukraine commenced on February 24th.
The report noted that it was unclear whether or not Russian president Vladimir Putin directly made the request to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), during their bilateral summit on February 4th. Officials noted that some aspects of the report are up for debate, while still insisting that the overall findings of the report are credible.
It had already been widely speculated that any military action by Russia would not take place until after the Chinese Olympics, as the two nations have been slowly developing a partnership with shared interests that include a mutual opposition to the United States.
After their summit, the Russian and Chinese governments issued a joint statement declaring that their alliance had “no limits,” and stating that they both opposed further expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the alliance of Western European countries that is led by the United States. Putin has since used possible NATO expansion into Ukraine as justification for his invasion of the country. As the Russian incursion into Ukraine began, China deliberately refused to refer to it as an invasion and insisted that it was neutral on the matter, calling for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict.
Responding to media coverage of the Russia-China report, Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in the U.S., declared that “the claims mentioned in the relevant reports are speculations without any basis, and are intended to blame-shift and smear China.”