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Russia, China push back against US in pre-Olympics summit

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 07:40:03-05

The leaders of Russia and China have declared their joint opposition to any expansion of NATO and affirmed that the island of Taiwan is a part of China.

Friday's joint communique followed a meeting between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping hours before the Winter Olympics kicked off in Beijing.

Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi appeared to use the statement to push back against pressure from the U.S. and its allies, as Russia amasses troops on its border with Ukraine.

Putin is the highest-profile guest at the Beijing Games following the decision of the U.S., Britain and others not to send officials in protest of China’s human rights abuses.

In December, the Biden Administration said it would hold a "diplomatic boycott" of the games due to China's abuse of Muslim people in the northwest territory of Xinjiang and "other human rights abuses."

China and Russia have increasingly aligned their foreign policies bilaterally and in world bodies such as the United Nations.

More than 100,000 Russian troops are stationed near Ukraine's northern and eastern borders. That raises concern that Moscow might invade again as it did in 2014.

Though Russia denies it's planning an invasion of Ukraine, it has laid out a series of demands it says will improve security in Europe. Those demands include a promise that NATO will not extend an invitation to Ukraine and a guarantee that the alliance will remove troops from Eastern Europe.

But the U.S. and the Western alliance have firmly rejected any concessions on Moscow's suggestions. Many of Russia's demands are nonstarters for NATO, creating a stalemate that many fear can only end in a war.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced it was sending 3,000 U.S. troops toward Eastern Europe. About 2,000 of those military members will be deployed from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland and Germany. Another 1,000 troops based in Germany will be sent to Romania.

"The current situation demands that we reinforce Eastern flank," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Wednesday.

In the past, Putin has expressed frustration with the Soviet breakup of some countries, like Belarus and Ukraine. According to an Associated Press analysis, Putin sees those countries as part of a historic Russian linguistic and Orthodox motherland.