In the last three months, the United States officials met high-level Chinese officials over half a dozen times in a bid to use China’s influence to convince Russia not to carry out military attacks on Ukraine.
According to a report by the New York Times, senior Biden administration officials held urgent meetings with the Chinese diplomats and presented them intelligence showing Russia’s troop buildup around Ukraine. The US officials also appealed to the Chinese to convince Russia not to invade, NYT quoted US officials as saying.
In response, the Chinese officials, including the Foreign Minister and the Ambassador to the United States, ignored American officials, saying they did not see any Russian invasion of Ukraine coming.
The Biden administration was desperate to stop Russians and thus shared intelligence with China on Russia’s troop buildup in hopes that President Xi Jinping would step in. The officials privy to this information said that the Biden administration shared high-level info with its adversary to gain support from China to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine.
However, the Chinese government repeatedly rebuffed the efforts and instead turned over the intelligence data to Moscow.
The US officials believe that their information was relayed to Russia by China, noting that the Biden administration was trying to sow division between China and Russia.
Information sharing began after Biden-Xi meet in November
The Biden administration’s diplomatic outreach to China began after President Biden met Chinese President Xi Jinping in a virtual meeting on November 15. Apparently, the Biden administration shared information in a diplomatic exchange from December 2021, warning China that Russia was preparing to attack Ukraine.
Following the productive meeting between heads of the state, the American officials decided that the Russian troop buildup around Ukraine presented the most immediate problem that China and the United States should work together to try and defuse the tensions.
A week later, White House officials met with the Chinese ambassador to the United States Qin Gang at the Chinese Embassy. They informed the ambassador that US intelligence agencies had detected a gradual encirclement of Ukraine by Russian forces, including armoured units.
During the subsequent meetings, the Biden administration shared the intelligence and told the ambassador that the United States would impose tough sanctions on Russian companies, officials and businesses entities in the event of an invasion. The US officials said the sanctions would also damage China’s interests because of its commercial ties with Russia.
The US subtly warned the Chinese that it was in the best interest of China to persuade Putin to stand down. However, Qin was sceptical and suspicious, an American official said. The talks with the Chinese ambassador went on at least three more times.
Secretary of State Antony J Blinken spoke to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi about the troop buildup on Monday, the same day Putin ordered the troops to enter the Russia-backed territories of Ukraine.
In fact, the sharing of intelligence at high-level continued up until Wednesday, when Russian military forces launched “special military operations” throughout Ukraine.
Russia’s ‘military operations’ against Ukraine
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced limited military operations against Ukraine. In a televised address, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the special operation to be conducted in East Ukraine.
Putin had added explicitly that Moscow did not plan on occupying Ukraine. He said the military action he announced would seek to “demilitarise” and “denazify” Ukraine and came in response to threats from Ukraine.
According to Ukraine’s border guard agency, the Russian military entered the country from neighbouring Belarus. The Russian forces crossed Belarus to enter Ukraine from the North, said Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Northern border forces in Ukraine have come under attack by Russian troops.