Putin snubbed Xi back after their one-sided summit with a nuclear announcement that directly undermines China

Russian President Vladimir Putin and China's President Xi Jinping at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21, 2023.PAVEL BYRKIN/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
  • Putin 'humiliated' China's Xi Jinping a week after their summit, a former US ambassador said.

  • Michael McFaul said Putin's decision to station nukes in Belarus was a snub to Xi.

  • Putin and Xi strengthened their alliance at a summit in Moscow last week, but tensions remain.

Russian President Vladimir Putin "humiliated" China's President Xi Jinping by revealing plans to station nuclear weapons in Belarus, according to former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

The announcement, made on Saturday, marks the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union that Russia has said it will store tactical nuclear weapons on foreign soil.


McFaul pointed to the timing of the announcement, saying it had come just days after Russia issued a joint statement with China in which they declared their opposition to countries stationing nuclear weapons abroad.

"Not very respectful to his 'good friend' Xi!" tweeted McFaul, who is currently a professor of Political Science at Stanford University.


McFaul said the announcement would particularly rankle Beijing given that Belarus' President, Viktor Lukashenko, had recently made a state visit to China. 

"Both Putin and Lukashenko humiliated Xi. Remember, Luka was just treated to a fancy state visit to China. Xi just came to Moscow. Can't imagine this decision is going down well in Beijing," he tweeted.

Xi signalled to Russia last November that the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine would be a red line, Politico said.

China has handed the Russian economy a lifeline amid punishing sanctions over the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and has refrained from criticising Russia's invasion, providing the Kremlin with crucial diplomatic support.

At last week's summit, Putin and Xi presented a common front against the global power of the US and its allies.

However, analysts told Insider that the summit indicated that the balance of power between Russia and China had tipped in China's favour, and that Xi had secured lucrative access to the Russian economy while offering little in terms of extra support.

Xi appeared to press home the advantage last week, by inviting Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to the first China-Central Asia summit, the AFP news agency reported.

The states are all former members of the Soviet Union, and long regarded as part of Russia's sphere of influence.

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