Sunday shows preview: US-China tensions grow over balloon response, Russia-Ukraine war nears one-year mark

Heightened tensions between the U.S. and China over Washington’s response to a suspected spy balloon, as well as the upcoming one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are likely to dominate the Sunday talk shows this weekend.

Since Beijing’s high-altitude surveillance balloon was first spotted traveling over the U.S. earlier this month, Washington has been preoccupied with the presence of high-flying objects in U.S. airspace.

The Chinese spy balloon spent a week traversing the U.S. before being shot down off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4. President Biden defended his decision to wait until the balloon was over open water, citing safety concerns on the ground. However, he has faced backlash from Republicans over the delayed response.

In the wake of the balloon’s downing, a senior Pentagon official revealed that suspected Chinese surveillance balloons briefly hovered over the U.S. at least three times during the Trump administration and one time previously in the Biden administration.

The U.S. military shot down three more high-flying objects in U.S. airspace last weekend, but the Biden administration has maintained that they were likely connected to a private company or research institution.

“We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were, but nothing right now suggests they were related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country,” Biden said on Thursday.

However, he added: “I make no apologies for taking down that balloon.”

Wang Yi, a top Chinese diplomat, mocked Washington’s response to the balloon while at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, calling it “absurd and hysterical.” China has repeatedly claimed that the balloon was primarily being used for meteorological research and was blown off course.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, whose trip to China was postponed over the spy balloon, is set to make the rounds on the Sunday shows this weekend — including ABC’s “This Week”, NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’ “Face the Nation” — to discuss relations with Beijing.

Blinken met with Wang in Munich on Saturday and reportedly emphasized that “this irresponsible act must never again occur,” according to a State Department readout of the meeting.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) are also set to discuss China on ABC’s “This Week” and Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” respectively.

With the war in Ukraine reaching the one-year mark on Feb. 24, the ongoing conflict will also likely be a major topic of discussion on the Sunday shows circuit.

Russia has begun its long-feared counter-offensive in eastern Ukraine ahead of the war’s one-year anniversary, as it makes a push to reclaim territory it lost to Ukrainian forces last year.

Moscow has reportedly sent in tens of thousands of “ill-equipped and ill-trained” troops, resulting in high numbers of casualties, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday. U.K. intelligence estimated on Friday that as many as 60,000 Russian soldiers have died so far in the war.

Vice President Kamala Harris said on Saturday at the Munich conference that the U.S. has formally determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity, pointing to its widespread attack against Ukrainian civilians.

Blinken and Graham are also expected to discuss the war in Ukraine during their appearances on the Sunday shows.

John Sullivan, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, and Fiona Hill, a former White House adviser on Russia, will also discuss Moscow’s possible next moves and potential ways to the end the war on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, while White House national security spokesman John Kirby will join “Fox News Sunday” to discuss the latest on the war.

Below is the full list of guests scheduled to appear on this week’s Sunday talk shows:

ABC’s “This Week” — Secretary of State Antony Blinken; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Blinken; former Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.)

CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Blinken; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki; John Sullivan, former U.S. ambassador to Russia; Fiona Hill, former White House adviser on Russia; Dr. Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health

CNN’s “State of the Union” — U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield; Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Mike Turner (R-Ohio); Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)

“Fox News Sunday” — John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council; Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley

Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures” — Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.); Reps. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), Lance Gooden (R-Texas) and Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.); Miranda Devine, New York Post columnist and author; Peter Schweizer, author and Government Accountability

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.