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China Asked Russia to Delay Ukraine War Until After Olympics, U.S. Officials Say

A Western intelligence report indicates that Chinese officials had some level of direct knowledge about President Vladimir V. Putin’s war plans or intentions.
Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP File photo: Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk to each other during their meeting in Beijing, China on Feb. 4, 2022.
Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP File photo: Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk to each other during their meeting in Beijing, China on Feb. 4, 2022.

A Western intelligence report said senior Chinese officials told senior Russian officials in early February not to invade Ukraine before the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, according to senior Biden administration officials and a European official.

The report indicates that senior Chinese officials had some level of direct knowledge about Russia’s war plans or intentions before the invasion started last week. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia met with President Xi Jinping of China in Beijing on Feb. 4 before the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Moscow and Beijing issued a 5,000-word statement at the time declaring that their partnership had “no limits,” denouncing NATO enlargement and asserting that they would establish a new global order with true “democracy.”

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. 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.

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