China Accuses U.S. of Hyping Up Threat of Russia Invading Ukraine

China has accused the United States of exaggerating Russia's military buildup and creating instability in Ukraine's society and economy in the process.

Russia reported the partial withdrawal of troops near Ukraine and also concluded war games in occupied Crimea on Wednesday. But in an address from the White House, President Joe Biden said more than 150,000 Russian troops still encircle Ukraine.

Earlier this week, diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv were relocated amid fears that an attack could be imminent. China, meanwhile, has resisted similar moves and not voiced overt concerns about Moscow's actions. It has faced criticism from the Pentagon for its perceived "tacit support" of Russian military coercion against Ukraine.

"For days, the U.S. has been playing up the threat of war and creating an air of tension," China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular press conference in Beijing. "This has gravely impacted the economy, social stability and people's lives in Ukraine, and obstructed dialogue and negotiations between the concerned parties."

When Moscow announced the pullback of certain forces near Ukraine on Tuesday, it similarly accused Washington of a failed propaganda campaign; Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called it "information terrorism."

Wang repeated the phrase at his press event, perhaps signaling Beijing's belief—or knowledge—that the full-scale invasion feared by many was not imminent or even likely in the coming days.

"It is exactly this persistent hyping and dissemination of disinformation by some in the West that has added more turbulence and uncertainty to a world already fraught with challenges, and intensified distrust and division," said Wang.

"We hope relevant parties can stop such disinformation campaigns and do more to benefit peace, mutual trust and cooperation."

Governments in the West have called on Beijing to use its close relationship with Moscow to talk President Vladimir Putin out of a military adventure, which could be greatly destabilizing for the global economy.

China has dismissed suggestions that it has asked Russia not to invade Ukraine this year—and especially during the ongoing 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

"China and Russia have always worked to develop long-term good-neighborliness and a mutually beneficial cooperative relationship on the basis of non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of third countries," said Wang, whose remarks followed an overwhelmingly positive report by China's state broadcaster CCTV a day earlier.

In its prime-time news bulletin Xinwen Lianbo on Tuesday, CCTV highlighted the Kremlin's readiness to continue security talks with the West; Lavrov's insistence that Russia won't go to war with Ukraine; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's dissatisfaction at the withdrawal of Western diplomats from Kyiv; and the resumption of talks between the defense ministers of Ukraine and Belarus to ease tensions.

Despite signs that Moscow is ready to pursue a diplomatic rather than military route to its security concerns, Kyiv has remained skeptical.

Ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: "We have heard the signs from Moscow about readiness to continue diplomatic efforts. But so far, we have not seen any de-escalation on the ground. On the contrary, it appears that Russia continues the military build-up."

The alliance is "prepared for the worst, and if Russia once again invades Ukraine, they will pay a high price," Stoltenberg said.

"But we really hope that Russia will engage in meaningful dialogue and choose diplomacy instead of confrontation. We are ready to sit down and find a political solution."

China Says U.S. Hyping Up War Threat
Ukrainian troops take part in a military drill outside the city of Rivne on February 16, 2022. China’s Foreign Ministry accused the United States of “playing up the threat of war” in a press conference in Beijing, China, on February 16, 2022, after Russia announced the partial withdrawal of troops near Ukraine. AFP via Getty Images/ARIS MESSINIS