Russia delayed Ukraine invasion at China’s request: Report

March 3, 2022, 3:59 PM UTC

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began one day after the closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. And that timing is increasingly looking deliberate.

Chinese officials asked Russia to wait until the Games had concluded before launching its invasion on Ukraine, according to a Western intelligence report. The request was made at roughly the same time Russian President Vladimir Putin visited China for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, but it’s not clear if that request came during a meeting between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The New York Times, which first noted the existence of the report, says the report was shared among the U.S. and allies, but it’s unclear how widely it was distributed.

China has repeatedly sided with Russia since the start of the invasion, echoing Russia’s concerns about NATO and backing Putin’s sovereignty claims. That support weakened slightly this week when China finally called the military action a “war” and said it was “extremely concerned” about the harm to civilians in Ukraine.

The consultation between the two countries on the timing of the Ukraine war is quite a turnaround from 2008, when Russia invaded Georgia during the Summer Olympics in Beijing. That action reportedly upset officials in China.

Chinese officials have downplayed the report. Liu Pengyu, the Chinese Embassy spokesman in Washington, told several news outlets, “These claims are speculation without any basis, and are intended to blame-shift and smear China.”

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