tannock41_SERGEI BOBYLYOVSPUTNIKAFP via Getty Images_xi putin SERGEI BOBYLYOV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

Xi Jinping’s Radioactive Friend

Instead of weakening the United States and bolstering China’s geopolitical standing, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has accomplished the exact opposite. As Chinese President Xi Jinping prepares for an unprecedented third term, the growing desperation of Russian President Vladimir Putin should serve as a cautionary tale.

LONDON – Vladimir Putin’s ongoing failure in Ukraine has put his strategic alliance with Chinese President Xi Jinping to the test. With Putin growing ever more desperate, Xi must finally realize the scale of the threat that his “friendship without limits” with the Russian president poses to China’s economic health, to global stability, and to his own geopolitical ambitions.

While Putin may or may not have been bluffing when he threatened to use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine last month, Xi must assume the worst if he wants to be viewed as a responsible leader. After all, Russia’s military doctrine allows for a nuclear strike to defend Russian territory against an existential threat. Russia’s illegal annexation of the occupied Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia provides the pretext for such an attack.

Xi, who is expected to secure an unprecedented third consecutive term as China’s leader at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China later this month, must now turn his attention to preventing World War III. A Russian nuclear strike in Ukraine – the first use of such weapons since the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 – would ignite a catastrophic global crisis, spoiling Xi’s coronation.

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