Washington’s Foreign Policy Blunder: Senior Biden Administration Officials Pleaded With China to Help Avert War in Ukraine, China Then Leaked Intel to Russia

biden china
US President Joe Biden gestures as he meets with China's President Xi Jinping during a virtual summit from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, November 15, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP via Getty Images)

February 27, 2022

Senior officials in the Biden Administration held half a dozen meetings with top Chinese officials over the course of three months, where U.S. intelligence was presented to China showing Russian military build-up on the Ukrainian border. The U.S. pleaded with China to tell Russia not to invade Ukraine, according to The New York Times. China then gave that intelligence to Russia, showcasing a stronger cooperation between the two in recent history.

Russian-Chinese relations have historically been turbulent and unpredictable, but their friendship these days suggests the two nations are closer with each other than at any other time throughout history, especially in the wake of what seems to be one American foreign policy blunder after another. 

There were telling signs that Russia and China have cozied up to one another, like when the two signed an energy pact that reportedly “ramped up” Russian oil and gas exports. The two also signed other agreements in 2014 to ease sanctions placed on Russia. So one would think that a Western democracy, like the United States no less, attempting to appeal to China, in hopes that Xi Jinping would simply take Putin out for a few drinks and talk him out of invading Ukraine, is ridiculous.

What would Xi Jinping—a leader who views Taiwan as similarly as Vladimir Putin views Ukraine—possibly gain by cooperating with the West’s appeal for him to talk Putin off the ledge of war? Did the President really believe that China would cooperate with the United States in an effort to avoid a potentially temporary public relations blip on the timeline?

(READ MORE: China’s Advantage in Russia’s Ukraine Folly; Ripple Impact of a Fool’s Errand)

As The New York Times reports:

“[American Officials] also pointed out they knew how China had helped Russia evade some of the 2014 sanctions, and warned Beijing against any such future aid. And they argued that because China was widely seen as a partner of Russia, its global image could suffer if Mr. Putin invaded.”

Senior officials attempting to gain leverage over China by threatening their “global image” is as ludicrous as it is improbable. Russia and China are both autocratic regimes that devote themselves to crushing their opposition, as well as expanding their respective political spheres of influence, much of the time in sheer spite of what has historically been a long trend of American efforts to further isolate and counter the two nations.

As a result of these officials sharing intelligence with China, the Chinese government did what any rational person at the helm of the American executive branch would have predicted: they told Russia. Then the Chinese placed the blame for heightening tensions in Ukraine on the U.S. 

Per The New York Times:

“On Wednesday, after Mr. Putin ordered troops into eastern Ukraine but before its full invasion, Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said at a news conference in Beijing that the United States was ‘the culprit of current tensions surrounding Ukraine.’”

“‘On the Ukraine issue, lately the U.S. has been sending weapons to Ukraine, heightening tensions, creating panic and even hyping up the possibility of warfare,” she said. “If someone keeps pouring oil on the flame while accusing others of not doing their best to put out the fire, such kind of behavior is clearly irresponsible and immoral.’”

“She added: ‘When the U.S. drove five waves of NATO expansion eastward all the way to Russia’s doorstep and deployed advanced offensive strategic weapons in breach of its assurances to Russia, did it ever think about the consequences of pushing a big country to the wall?’ She has refused to call Russia’s assault an ‘invasion’ when pressed by foreign journalists.” (Emphasis Added)

At the Munich Security Conference last Saturday, Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, criticized NATO, prompting European leaders to accuse “China of working with Russia to overturn what they and the Americans say is a ‘rules-based international order.’” 

The foreign minister reportedly said that Ukraine’s sovereignty should be “respected and safeguarded—a reference to a foreign policy principle that Beijing often cites—but no Chinese officials have mentioned Ukraine in those terms since Russia’s full invasion began.” 

On Jan. 29, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy also expressed frustration with Biden’s rhetoric, according to Politico. During a phone call, Biden reportedly told Zelenskyy that Russia “could attack” at any time. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki repeated the statement saying that an attack was “imminent.”  

Although Zelenskyy loudly sounded the alarm on the potential for a Russian invasion earlier in November, his “mission to project calm” in January reportedly came after Biden’s remarks. “I’m the president of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy told Kyiv reporters, “and I’m based here and I think I know the details better here.”

Russian state-owned Sputnik News subsequently reported that “Zelensky fears that the United States is exaggerating the threat of an imminent invasion of Ukraine to conclude an agreement with Russia which would give Moscow more control over the Donbass region…” 

China, Russia, and Ukraine all repeated the sentiment: the President was escalating tensions. This could be construed in two ways: 1) the President unequivocally believed that Russia was going to invade yet did nothing but tout economic sanctions packaged as “decisive action” against Russia. This would prompt us to ask what intelligence supported that conviction and if it would in any case justify his rhetoric?; or 2) the President did not really know, conjured up an educated guess, stoked the flames of the conflict, and simultaneously ignored senators when they warned of the effects of his “speak loudly and carry a small stick” foreign strategy. But if the President did not unequivocally believe in Russia’s invasion, why was the administration so grandiose on the world stage, taking a role that both the world and U.S. herself saw as “escalating rhetoric?” 

With each possibility, what we know for sure is that senior officials in the president’s administration were sharing information with Chinese officials. The President was presumably aware of these meetings if it is his foreign policy pursued under this administration. Is it possible that the administration violated security protocols, even unintentionally? And if so, how severe are those violations in the interests of national security? 

Beginning to reveal itself is yet another foreign policy disaster under the President’s watch. Not only did the administration incorrectly assess China’s cooperation with Russia against their mutual largest adversary, the United States, but the administration also single handedly portrayed the U.S. as the sole provocateur in the situation; and whether or not she was, remains to be seen.

An immediate argument against investigations into these discoveries is that a cooperative Russia and China would have reciprocally reported U.S. involvement as contentious and exaggerated, as a means of propaganda; but that would also suggest that Zelenskyy’s comments repeating that same sentiment was also Russian approved, and that would be a wholly unthinkable suggestion across the Western world. It may be for that reason alone that an investigation into the U.S.’s role in preventing and instigating Russia’s invasion warrants answers.  

In December, former President Donald Trump said that Putin isn’t intimidated by Joe Biden after his withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“Vladimir Putin looks at our pathetic surrender in Afghanistan, leaving behind dead Soldiers, American citizens, and $85 billion worth of Military equipment. He then looks at Biden. He is not worried.”

Trump may be correct. Vladimir Putin is also not politically deterred by sanctions the way Western countries may be. Putin is determined to build a new Russian empire, and he sees the Biden administration’s continued foreign policy failures as a greenlight to further pursue that goal. 

As evidenced by the Russian-Chinese energy pact mentioned earlier, it appears that efforts to economically sanction Russia from the West have only driven Russia and China closer together, underscoring the absurdity of the Biden administration’s strategy to appeal for China’s help in convincing Russia not to invade Ukraine. 

Given what we now know, however, the West’s economic sanctions on Russia may appear to be impacting the Russian economy.  

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