Beijing’s billions of dollars of investment on the Winter Olympics is facing another challenge besides the uninvited COVID-19 outbreaks nationwide.
According to Bloomberg, analysts are warning that China’s Olympic dream could be sabotaged if Russia chooses to invade Ukraine and divert international attention away. The paper wrote that current Chinese leader Xi Jinping is counting on the Games to build up his credentials for a third term later this year.
In a January 14th press conference, spokesperson Wang Wenbin of China’s Foreign Ministry had asked members of the United Nations for a cease in “hostilities from seven days before the start of the Olympic Games until seven days after the end of the Paralympic Games.”
What Wang indicated equates to a ceasing of any potential conflict between January 28th and March 20th.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has not explicitly shown any signs of launching an incursion of Ukraine despite the deployment of nearly 100,000 troops near the border between both nations.
Two people familiar with recent assessments in the West told Bloomberg that Russia may still opt for some smaller attacks on Ukraine even if it does not think of a full-scale invasion yet. They expected such activities could happen around mid-February, potentially a cyberattack or something else that could upset its stability. But Putin’s inscrutable attitude makes large-scale attack still a possibility.
Similar incidents have happened before. In 2008, the war between Russia and Georgia broke out on the opening day of the Beijing Summer Olympics, confusing and frustrating China’s leaders.
Tatiana Stanovaya, a political consultant and founder of R.Politik, believed that Putin will not take the Olympics into account if he is indeed planning a conflict.
Stanovaya said: “Putin cannot sacrifice Russia’s strategic and security interests to create sympathy for a neighboring country.”
Stanovaya’s R.Politik is an analytics company focused on Russian politics.
Stanovaya said that if the Russian leader thinks that security talks with the US will yield nothing, then “Russia will invade Ukraine, regardless of any Chinese demands”.
New York-based news agency SubChina reported on January 20th that Russia and Belarus will conduct a joint military exercise in February. In the first training phase, Russian troops will be deployed in Belarus until February 9th. The two sides said the second phase of the exercise would be from February 10th to 20th. It was said to be a rehearsal for countering an external attack.
The paper viewed that the timing of the second phase of the joint exercise seems very important. The Beijing Olympics will open on February 4th and end on February 20th.
SubChina said perhaps it is no coincidence that February 20th is also when the Russian and Belarusian military will finish their joint exercises. This could be a message from Moscow that there will be no Russian war in Ukraine until at least the second phase of the training, which is February 20th.
The United States and NATO have warned the joint exercises could be used to attack Ukraine from the North.