China and Russia have strengthened their economic, diplomatic and military ties over the years. Xi and Putin met 37 times as national leaders before their final conclave in Beijing. An ambitious joint statement issued by the two countries during the meeting worried American and European officials, especially since it was the first time China had explicitly sided with Russia on issues related to NATO and European security. European leaders have reproach China and Russia since then.
Representative Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican and member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he was not familiar with intelligence about discussions between Russia and China over Ukraine, but Beijing’s support for Moscow was clear.
“China supports all of Putin’s narratives of blaming the West for provoking Russia,” Gallagher said. “I don’t see a change in China’s view of Russia. They remain in the de facto alliance against the West at this point.”
For months, several American officials have tried to recruit China to help prevent war.
Days after President Biden spoke with Xi in a videoconference on November 15, senior American officials decided to present intelligence about the buildup of Russian troops around Ukraine to senior Chinese officials to try to get them to persuade Putin to step down. The Americans spoke with Qin Gang, the Chinese ambassador in Washington, and Wang Yi, the foreign minister. In half a dozen meetingincluding one in Washington between US officials and the Chinese ambassador just hours before the Russian invasion, Chinese officials expressed skepticism that Putin would attack Ukraine, American officials said.
After a diplomatic exchange in December, US officials received intelligence indicating that Beijing had shared information with Moscow, telling Russia that the United States was seeking to sow discord and that China would not try to thwart Russia’s plans, American officials said.
US intelligence findings and assessments of Russia’s plans for an invasion of Ukraine are generally accurate. America began a campaign last fall to share intelligence with primarily allied and partner nations and to present declassified material to the public to build pressure on Russia to stop its planned invasion. William J. Burns, director of the CIA, flew to Moscow on November 2 to confront Russia with the information, and on November 17, American intelligence officials shared their findings with NATO.
British officials have assessed that an attack by Putin before the Olympics is possible but unlikely, according to several officials briefed on London intelligence. It was based in part on Western intelligence reports, but largely on the analytical assessment that Russia’s plans to tackle Western sanctions depend heavily on Chinese support and the idea that Putin would not risk angering Xi.
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