China on Thursday rejected US allegations that Russia had informed it of plans to invade Ukraine, saying they were â€œpurely fakeâ€.
Sources with ties to the White House have said a senior Russian official had told their Chinese counterpart early last month that Moscow was going to conduct a military operation in Ukraine and the Chinese side told them to hold off until the end of the Winter Olympics.
â€œThe report is purely fake information. This kind of rhetoric is to divert attention and shift blame, which is utterly despicable,â€ foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular press conference in Beijing when asked about the claims, which were first reported by The New York Times.
Wang said the cause of the current Ukraine crisis was â€œa fact known by heart to allâ€ and criticised Nato expansion as a wrong decision responsible for the deterioration of relations with Russia.
He said the Biden administration could have prevented the war by promising not to accept Ukraine as a member of Nato, quoting a few US researchers and officials who had made that argument.
â€œOnly those who start the problem can end it. I hope that the initiators of the crisis will reflect on their role in the Ukraine crisis, take up their due responsibilities and take practical actions to ease the situation and solve the problem, instead of blaming the innocent,â€ Wang said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Beijing to attend the Winter Olympics opening ceremony and met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on February 4. The two leaders then issued a statement that declared their relationship was a strategic partnership.
US intelligence has said it was unclear whether the exchange took place in a direct conversation between Xi and Putin or through other senior channels.
One February 22, two days after the end of the Winter Games in Beijing, Putin said he would recognise the independence of two breakaway regions in east Ukraine and ordered the â€œspecial military campaignâ€ on February 24.
The Chinese embassy in Washington also denied the reports on Wednesday, saying: â€œThe claims are speculation without any basis and are intended to blame-shift and smear China.â€