The “New York Times” claimed Wednesday that China asked Russia not to invade Ukraine until the end of the Winter Olympics held in Beijing.
Quoting “senior Biden administration officials and a European official” as sources, 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.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Beijing on February 4, the opening day of the Games.
“The intelligence on the exchange between the Chinese and Russian officials was classified. It was collected by a Western intelligence service and considered credible by officials reviewing it. Senior officials in the United States and allied governments passed it around as they discussed when Mr. Putin might attack Ukraine. However, different intelligence services had varying interpretations, and it is not clear how widely the information was shared”, the “New York Times” added.
“One official familiar with the intelligence said the material did not necessarily indicate the conversations about an invasion took place at the level of Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin”.
The U.S. newspaper added that a spokeswoman for the Chinese embassy in Washington rejected the information, which she defined as “baseless”.
The “New York Times” publication is, however, very credible. Ed Hula, founder of Around the Rings, put forward the same approach in his column “The Hula Report”, published on January 21.
“Here we go again. Eight years ago tensions bristled between Russia and Ukraine on the eve of a Winter Olympic Games. Russia had its sights on Crimea, the long-disputed region then under the Ukraine flag. Then the pause button was pushed, just in time for the Sochi Olympics”.
After explaining the political and sporting reasons that led him to do so in 2014, Hula concluded that the same would happen in 2022. And he got it absolutely right: “If history provides any lessons, look for Mr. Putin to punch the play button Feb. 21, the day after closing ceremony in Beijing.”
And so it was: that same Monday, Putin moved Russian troops into regions of eastern Ukraine to begin the invasion of the neighboring country.