WASHINGTON: 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, quoting Biden administration officials and a European official who cited a Western intelligence report.
The Times said the intelligence report indicated senior Chinese officials had some level of knowledge about Russia’s plans or intentions to invade Ukraine before Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the operation last week.
A source familiar with the matter confirmed to Reuters that China had made the request but declined to provide details. The source declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.
“The claims mentioned in the relevant reports are speculations without any basis, and are intended to blame-shift and smear China,” said Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington.
The US State Department, the CIA and the White House National Security Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
After weeks of warnings from Western leaders, Russia unleashed a three-pronged invasion of Ukraine from the north, east and south on Feb 24, just days after the Olympics ended.
Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met at the start of the Olympics on Feb 4 and declared an upgraded “no limits” partnership in which they pledged to collaborate more against the West.
The New York Times said the intelligence on the exchange between the Chinese and Russian officials was collected by a Western intelligence service and was considered credible by officials reviewing it.