Russian dictator Vladimir Putin did not inform China about his plans to invade Ukraine, the Financial Times wrote on Jan. 10, citing sources familiar with the matter.
These sources at different times told FT that Beijing had not been informed about Putin's plans before he ordered the assault – despite the Russian and Chinese leaders' joint announcement of a "no limits to Sino-Russian cooperation…no forbidden zones," just 20 days before the start of the full-scale invasion.
According to the FT, while Putin hinted that Russia may conduct a limited military operation, ostensibly to protect “Russian territory,” Beijing did not believe that to mean a full war.
The outlet wrote that despite the official narrative of "bilateral cooperation," privately, a number of China officials express a certain distrust of Putin.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister and the major Russian expert Le Yucheng was demoted due to the lack of understanding of the current situation and his inability to predict the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the FT writes.
"Le was demoted by two levels of seniority,” the paper wrote, citing one person familiar with the issue.
“He was held responsible for the intelligence failure on Russia's invasion.”
Reportedly, Le was about to be promoted to the position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, but though he is now the deputy head of the National Radio and Television Administration.
China has refrained from outright official criticism of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. However, at the G20 leaders summit Xi Jinping allegedly "came out firmly against usage of nuclear weapons and stood for de-escalation and immediate ceasefire.”
At the same time, media outlets in China commonly repeat Russian narratives wholeheartedly, and Chinese social media users often echo Russian propaganda about Ukraine.