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23 Jan, 2022 20:11

Xi did not ask Putin ‘not to invade Ukraine’ during Olympics – Chinese officials

China’s embassy in Russia has described part of a US media report about Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and the Beijing Olympics as a 'hoax and provocation'
Xi did not ask Putin ‘not to invade Ukraine’ during Olympics – Chinese officials

Chinese diplomats in Russia have said that their country's position on Ukraine is consistent and clear and dismissed a US media claim that Xi Jinping may have made a special request to Vladimir Putin ahead of the Winter Olympics, according to a report.

An anonymous diplomat in Beijing said it is "possible" that Chinese president Xi asked Russian counterpart Putin, who he has called a "friend" and invited to the Olympics, "not to invade Ukraine during the Games", Bloomberg reported.

Western officials and media have accused Moscow of gathering troops and military resources with the potential intention of invading its neighbor.

Moscow has repeatedly denied that action is being planned against Ukraine, with Putin saying that he observes the continued development of the Western military bloc to the east as a threat.

TASS quoted a statement from the embassy shunning the suggestion that the Chinese president made the alleged request "in order not to spoil the event".

Officials are said to have called the report a "hoax and provocation" and added: "The Chinese side advocates resolving differences by means of dialogue and consultations in the framework of the Minsk agreements."

China has spent billions of dollars on the Games, which are the subject of a diplomatic boycott by governments including US president Joe Biden's administration.

Putin has criticized the boycotts, which are a response to allegations that China is detaining around a million Uyghur Muslims, and said he expects to attend the Games opening ceremony, as well as holding talks with Xi.

Russia made proposals to the US and NATO treaties in November suggesting a ban on the movement of Western military infrastructure closer to its borders and an effective bar on Ukraine from joining NATO.

The agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as calling the publication responsible for the claims about Putin and Xi "a special information operation by US respective agencies."

Zhang Hanhui, the Chinese Ambassador to Russia, spoke on Friday at the launch of a publicity week and exhibition celebrating the Games, co-hosted by the embassy and the Russian National University of Sports Youth and Tourism.

Accoring to the embassy, Zhang said that Russia has given "strong support" to China in hosting the Winter Olympics and reiterated that Putin will accept Xi's invitation to attend the opening ceremony.