China Asked Russia to Delay Invasion on Ukraine Until After Olympics, U.S. Officials Say

Chinese asked Russian officials in early February to delay the invasion on Ukraine until after the Winter Olympics in Beijing finished, United States officials said on March 2, citing a Western intelligence report.

The report indicated that senior Chinese officials had some level of direct knowledge about Russia’s plans or intentions before it began the invasion on Feb. 24, the New York Times reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met on Feb. 4 in Beijing before the opening ceremony of the Olympics, then issued a statement declaring their partnership and condemning the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Putin ordered Russian troops to enter rebel-controlled regions of eastern Ukraine on Feb. 20, a day after China held the closing ceremony of the Olympics.

American and European officials told the New York Times that it was hard to believe that it was purely a coincidence that the Russian invasion did not start until right after the Olympics.

Western officials spoke about the report on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the intelligence, the New York Times noted.

Western intelligence service collected the classified intelligence on the exchange between the Chinese and Russian officials and deemed it credible. However, different intelligence services had various interpretations on the information.

Additionally, one official familiar with the matter said that it was not clear from the report if the request took place at the level of Putin and Xi.

Chinese Embassy in Washington spokesperson Liu Pengyu told The New York Times in an emailed statement that the claims were “speculation without any basis, and are intended to blame-shift and smear China.”

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