Accessibility links

Breaking News

China Refuses To Call Moscow’s Ukraine Invasion What It Is

Aftermath of overnight shelling in a residential area in Kyiv on February 25, 2022. (Sergey Dolzhenko, EPA-EFE)
Aftermath of overnight shelling in a residential area in Kyiv on February 25, 2022. (Sergey Dolzhenko, EPA-EFE)
Hua Chunying

Hua Chunying

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson

“Regarding the definition of an invasion, I think we should go back to how to view the current situation in Ukraine.”


On Friday, February 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about Russia’s new war with Ukraine.

Xi told Putin that China supports Russia “in solving the issue” through negotiation with Ukraine, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

Despite a supposed longstanding policy of “non-interference” in the internal affairs of other countries, China has refused to label the war an “invasion.”

As Russian tanks rolled toward Kyiv, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was asked by reporters on February 24 whether she would call Russia’s attacks an invasion. Hua did not give a straight answer.

“Regarding the definition of an invasion, I think we should go back to how to view the current situation in Ukraine,” Hua said. “The Ukrainian issue has [a] very complicated historical background that has continued to today.”

That is a misleading evasion.

Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s false claims that Ukraine never had “real statehood” or needs to be “de-nazified,” Ukraine has been an independent state since 1991. In 1994, Russia signed a treaty, the Budapest Memorandum, which pledged to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Russia’s distortions of Ukrainian history do nothing to change the fact that Moscow launched a multi-front, air, land and sea invasion of Ukraine, widely condemned by Western countries as a violation of international law.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the largest in Europe since World War II.

On February 25, Russia continued to bomb Kyiv, with a rocket crashing into a residential building, The New York Times and other news outlets reported. The Times also reported that, for months, U.S. officials repeatedly pleaded with Beijing to encourage Russian not to invade Ukraine but were rebuffed.

As fighting raged, the United States warned that Russia’s military is seeking to “decapitate” Ukraine’s democratically elected government and install a puppet regime, and has compiled lists of Ukrainians to kill or “send to camps.”

Russian special forces and airborne troops have closed in on Kyiv. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Russian saboteurs had entered the city and that he was Moscow’s prime target.

The Ukrainian military continues to fight. In a midnight video address on February 25, Zelenskyy said 137 people, both soldiers and civilians, were killed and 316 people wounded during the first day of Russia’s invasion.

While Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that its attacks have only targeted Ukraine’s military infrastructure, and that “nothing threatens” Ukraine’s “civilian population,” news and social media reports said Russian strikes hit residential areas and hospitals.

Civilians across Ukraine have been forced to take shelter in metro stations and other bunkers as Russian missiles rain down on the county.

On the eve of war, Chinese state media attempted to whitewash the Kremlin’s decision to recognize the Russian-occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine as independent states.

Rather than call out Russia’ unilateral act of aggression, China falsely accused the United States of breaking a Cold War promise to the Soviet Union not to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

As previously noted, China has regularly cited “the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs” to shield authoritarian regimes from rights abuses against their own people.

That has included vetoing United Nations resolutions to punish the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons against his own people.

On the eve of the Winter Games in Beijing earlier this month, Beijing and Moscow declared a “no limits” partnership, under which China expressed support for Russia’s aggressive posture against Ukraine.