China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday denied a recent report by Bloomberg alleging Chinese dictator Xi Jinping asked Russian leader Vladimir Putin “not to invade Ukraine” during the 2022 Winter Olympics, saying the U.S.-based media company fabricated the claim “out of thin air” in an attempt “to smear and drive a wedge in China-Russia relations.”
TASS, Russia’s state-owned news agency, asked Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian about the Bloomberg article, published on January 21, during a regular press conference on January 24.
“The report was purely made up out of thin air,” Zhao responded.
“It seeks not only to smear and drive a wedge in China-Russia relations, but also to deliberately disrupt and undermine the Beijing Winter Olympics,” he said.
“Such a despicable trick cannot fool the international community,” Zhao added.
The Chinese Embassy in Russia also refuted Bloomberg’s report on January 23, labeling it “a hoax and provocation.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced the Bloomberg article as “a special information operation by US respective agencies” in statements shared by her Telegram channel on January 22.
“I understand that, in the US media’s version, Russia should have ‘invaded’ [Ukraine] a long time ago,” Zakharova wrote.
“But we have never ‘invaded.’ By their logic, it is the perfect moment — the Olympics in China, which the US media have been smearing for months at Washington’s behest. Bloomberg mixes the two topics and shoots, but misses,” she opined.
China’s state-run Global Times on January 24 described the Bloomberg piece as “disinformation” reflecting the “ill intention of the Western forces trying to instigate divergences between Beijing and Moscow.”
Beijing, China’s national capital, is set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics from February 4 to February 20. Western media outlets, especially those based in the U.S., such as Bloomberg, have in recent days published embellished or anonymously sourced articles claiming a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent. The claims run counter to official statements issued by Ukraine’s government this week assuring the public that such an act remains unlikely based on physical evidence, such as the number and formations of Russian troops on the ground in and near Ukraine.
“We don’t see any grounds for allegations of an (imminent) offensive against our country today. It would be impossible to pull this out, even physically,” Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, told Ukrinform at a press briefing on January 24. Ukrinform is a state-run Ukrainian news agency.
“As of today, there are no grounds to believe that Russia is preparing to invade imminently,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told the Ukrainian parliament on January 25, according to the Associated Press.
Reznikov noted that Russian troops “have not formed what he called a battle group that could force its way through the [Ukraine] border.”