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China denies asking Russia to delay invasion until end of Olympics

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China’s foreign ministry on Thursday condemned a New York Times report claiming that Beijing asked Russia to delay invading Ukraine until after the Winter Olympics ended, calling it “fake news.”

“We hope the culprit of the crisis would reflect on their role in the Ukraine crisis, take up their responsibilities, and take practical actions to ease the situation and solve the problem instead of blaming others,” foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, according to The Associated Press.

“The New York Times report is purely fake news, and such behaviors of diverting attentions and shifting blames are very despicable,” he added.

Wang also reiterated China’s claim that the U.S. provoked the war by not ruling out NATO membership for Ukraine, the AP noted.

The Times reported that senior Chinese officials urged senior Russian officials early last month not to invade Ukraine during the Beijing Games. The newspaper cited a “Western intelligence report” considered credible by officials.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Feb. 4, just hours before the opening ceremony. Following the meeting, the two countries issued a joint statement declaring “friendship between the two states has no limits, there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation.”

China at the time also expressed support for Russia’s opposition to further NATO expansion, adding that it “respect the sovereignty, security and interests of other countries,” according to the AP.

China is the only major government that has not condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and has said it would not impose financial sanctions on Russia. Instead, the country supported Russia, saying that NATO’s eastern expansion threatened Moscow’s security.

China also did not vote on a resolution passed during a United Nations General Assembly emergency session on Wednesday that demanded the halt and withdrawal of Russian troops in Ukraine, the AP noted. 

“Regrettably, the draft resolution submitted to the General Assembly emergency special session for vote had not undergone full consultations with the whole membership, nor does it take into consideration the history and the complexity of the current crisis,” Wang said, according to the news service.

“It did not highlight the importance of the principle of indivisible security or the urgency of promoting political settlement and stepping up diplomatic efforts,” he added. “These are not in line with China’s consistent position. Therefore, we had no choice but to abstain in the voting.”

Tags China Russia U.S. Vladimir Putin
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