US provoked Russia by not ruling out NATO membership for Ukraine: China

China abstained from voting on a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Yi has condemned the “fake news” and “very despicable suggestion” that Beijing asked Russia to postpone its invasion of Ukraine until the 2022 Winter Olympics were over. Speaking at a daily press conference on Thursday, Wang told journalists that the allegation in a U.S. newspaper is “purely fake news” and such “behaviours of diverting attention and blaming others are very despicable.” He reiterated the country’s claim that the United States provoked Russia by not ruling it out for NATO membership for Ukraine.

A Western intelligence report quoted by The New York Times claimed senior Chinese officials told senior Russians not to invade Ukraine until the international sports event in Beijing had concluded. The report states that senior Chinese officials had prior knowledge of Russian military intentions.

China has decided to abstain from voting on the UN Security Council resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea because it did not undergo full consultation with the whole membership.

Why NATO Has Become a Flash Point With Russia in Ukraine?

A protester holds up a placard during a rally against the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, in front of the US embassy in Kiev on Feb. 21, 2014. (Photo: Sergei Chuzavkov / AP)

The United States has long been concerned about Russia’s intentions toward its neighbors and has sought to counter Moscow’s influence in countries like Georgia and Moldova. But it is only now that Washington is facing a direct challenge from Russia itself. The Obama administration says it will provide weapons to Ukrainian forces fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, but the move has angered Moscow. On Friday, President Vladimir Putin said he would consider sending troops into Ukraine if the U.S. does not stop supporting the country’s new government. “If they continue with this policy, then we are forced to take certain measures,” he told reporters. “We have always had our own plan B.”

The United States has long been worried about Russia’s ambitions in its neighborhood. In 2008, when Russia invaded neighboring Georgia, the Bush administration sent armored vehicles to protect Tbilisi from an attack by Russian soldiers. And in 2009, after Russia annexed Crimea, the Obama administration imposed sanctions on officials close to President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted last month and fled to Russia. But it is only recently that the Obama administration faces a direct challenge from Russia. The United States says it will provide weapons and other support to Ukrainian forces battling pro-Russia rebels in the east of the country. But the move has angered Moscow, which says the West is trying to provoke a civil war in Ukraine.

On Friday, President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia could send troops into Ukraine if the United States doesn’t stop providing arms to the country’s new leaders. “If they continue this policy, then we’re forced to take certain measures. We have always had our own plans B,” he said at a news conference. He added that Russia might even consider sending its own peacekeeping force to the region. “We can think about this as well,” he said. “It’s possible.”

What is the source of Russia’s dispute with NATO?

NATO is an alliance of 28 member nations committed to collective defense through armed forces. It was founded in 1949 to deter Soviet aggression in Europe. Today, the organization is based in Brussels, Belgium, and has some 4,000 troops stationed across Europe. NATO members regularly conduct joint exercises, including ones in Poland and Estonia. They also share intelligence information and maintain strong ties with each other.

But Russia has never accepted NATO’s existence. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it argued that former republics should be free to join whichever political bloc they chose. This position led many former Soviet states to join the Western alliance. However, Russia still considers all NATO expansion to be illegal. It argues that the alliance violates the post-World War II treaties that ended hostilities between the two superpowers.

In addition, Russia sees NATO as a threat because of the military hardware that the alliance provides to countries such as Ukraine. Since 2004, the Kremlin has repeatedly accused NATO of violating international law by supplying weapons to Georgia and Moldova. It claims that these countries were used as proxies against Russia during the conflict over Kosovo in 1999. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union supported rebel groups in Afghanistan. Now, Russia accuses NATO of doing the same thing in Ukraine.

Why did the United States provoke Russia by not ruling out joining NATO?

The United State’s relationship with Russia has deteriorated since the end of the Cold War. Relations reached their lowest point in 2014, when Russia seized control of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. That prompted the U.S. government to impose economic sanctions on individuals linked to President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin responded by banning American food imports and seizing several U.S.-flagged ships off the coast of Crimea.

After the annexation, Washington shifted its focus to supporting Ukraine’s new government. Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States would provide lethal aid to help defend the country against pro-Russian separatists. On Saturday, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.

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