China urges Russia to park the nukes

China’s president Xi Jinping has gone from having “concerns” over the war in Ukraine to telling Russia to knock it off with the nuclear threats, saying they are “irresponsible and extremely dangerous.”

Catch up: Vladimir Putin has been floating the possibility of nuclear escalation since Ukraine started to gain the upper hand on the battlefield, which some experts say is a tactic to pressure the West to cut Ukraine off from military aid. 

What happened: Xi, who has called Putin his “best friend,” met with Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing to talk about economic relations, during which Scholz (successfully) urged China’s leader to use his influence over Putin to prevent escalation in Ukraine.

  • Xi then called on the world to “advocate that nuclear weapons cannot be used, a nuclear war cannot be waged, to prevent a nuclear crisis.” 
  • He also asked Germany and Europe to “play an important part in calling for peace and facilitating negotiations” and “improving the humanitarian situation.”

Why it matters: Xi is also Putin’s most important friend in the world these days, and he has a great deal of influence over Russian policy—his firm stance against escalation of the conflict is a win for diplomatic efforts to stop a full-fledged nuclear war from breaking out.

Zoom out: Geopolitical stability isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good business. China’s leader knows he’ll have a hard time attracting foreign investment with nukes flying around, so it’s in his best interest to keep things from getting too hot in Eastern Europe.