The New York Times reported in early February that senior Chinese officials warned senior Russian officials not to invade Ukraine before the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing Biden administration officials and a European official who referenced a Western intelligence analysis.
The intelligence analysis, according to the New York Times, suggested that senior Chinese officials were aware of Russia’s plans or intentions to attack Ukraine before Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated the operation last week.
China had made the request, according to a source familiar with the situation, but the source declined to disclose further specifics. Due to the sensitivity of the situation, the source declined to be identified.
Requests for comment to the US State Department, the CIA, and the White House National Security Council were not immediately returned.
On Feb. 24, only days after the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics finished, Russia launched a three-pronged invasion of Ukraine from the north, east, and south, despite weeks of warnings from Western leaders.
On the eve of the Olympics, Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met and announced an improved no-limits relationship in which they committed to work together more against the West.
The intelligence on the meeting between Chinese and Russian officials was gathered by a Western intelligence service, and officials examining it found it plausible.
Officials from the United States have revealed that the US passed on intelligence regarding the Russian army buildup around Ukraine to senior Chinese officials before the invasion in the hopes that Beijing would persuade Moscow to withdraw its soldiers.
The evidence was handed around by senior officials in the US and other governments as they pondered when Putin would invade Ukraine, according to the newspaper, but intelligence services had differing interpretations, and it was unclear how broadly the information was shared.