Putin’s renewed nuclear saber-rattling embarrasses Beijing, Bloomberg says

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin
Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin

The Chinese leader has been recently attempting to raise Beijing’s global profile as a major power broker. After helping Saudi Arabia and Iran to restore diplomatic relations, Xi Jinping turned his attention to other geopolitical issues, namely the war Putin has unleashed against Ukraine.

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The Chinese president recently visited Moscow, where he held lengthy talks with Putin. As a result of the negotiations, Putin and Jinping issued a joint statement that included an unambiguous imperative: “all nuclear weapons states should refrain from deploying nuclear weapons abroad.”

Just a few days later, Putin puts Xi Jinping in an uncomfortable position by announcing plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to neighboring Belarus. Whether or not Putin is trying to merely intimidate the West with more nuclear saber-rattling, it puts the Chinese leader in an awkward position, undermining his efforts to become a credible mediator in international conflicts.

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Xi Jinping neither supported, nor criticized Russia for the war against Ukraine. But one thing he was clearly stating for months: "Russia must not use nuclear weapons in the war."

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He also was expected to have a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy within days of visiting Moscow, which would be their first direct conversation since Russia’s full-scale invasion. The talks, however, haven’t taken place yet.

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