China reportedly asked Russia to hold off on Ukraine invasion until after Winter Olympics

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
(Image credit: Alexei Druzhinin/AFP via Getty Images)

According to a Western intelligence report, in early February senior Chinese officials told their Russian counterparts not to invade Ukraine prior to the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, senior Biden administration officials and a European official told The New York Times.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Feb. 4, ahead of the opening ceremony of the Olympics. In a joint statement, the leaders said the bond between their countries has "no limits," and they decried the expansion of NATO.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine last Thursday, the U.S. and its allies discussed the intelligence, the Times reports. One official with knowledge of the report said the material gathered did not necessarily indicate the conversations between China and Russia about delaying an invasion were at the level of Xi and Putin.

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The Times asked Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, whether Chinese officials had asked Russia to wait until after the Olympics to invade Ukraine. "These claims are speculation without any basis," he responded, "and are intended to blame-shift and smear China."

The closing ceremony of the Olympics was held on Feb. 20, and Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Russia spent the last year moving troops to the border with Ukraine, and in the winter, some units were sent from Russia's border with China to areas closer to Ukraine and Belarus. Read more at The New York Times.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.