Russian President Vladimir Putin will host Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a three-day visit to Moscow starting Monday


  • A former U.S. ambassador sees Beijing's violent reaction to Vladimir Putin's plan
  • Michael McFaul said Putin's plan was "not very respectful" to Xi Jinping
  • Putin said he only followed the U.S.'s practice of placing nuclear weapons in allied countries

A former ambassador has reacted over the announcement of Russian President Vladimir Putin that he plans to store tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Russia's neighbor and close ally.

Michael McFaul, the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, said Putin appeared to have broken his recent joint statement with Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding the deployment of nuclear weapons.

McFaul said Putin's move with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko would likely create a negative impact on their relations with 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," McFaul said on his Twitter account.

"Putin then did the opposite yesterday. Not very respectful to his 'good friend' Xi!" McFaul added.

On Saturday, Putin revealed in an interview with a Russian state broadcaster his plan to build a special storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Putin said the construction would be completed by July, CNN reported.

The Russian president said Moscow would still control the tactical nuclear weapons even though they are stationed in Belarus, comparing it to the U.S.'s practice of storing its nuclear weapons in allied countries.

"We are not going to hand over control of nuclear weapons. The U.S. doesn't hand it over to its allies. We're basically doing the same thing (U.S. leaders) have been doing for a decade," Putin said.

Putin added that Russia had already converted 10 Belarusian aircraft capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons. He said the Russian military would begin training Belarusian pilots to fly the reconfigured aircraft in April.

Putin's remarks were immediately condemned by Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Podolyak said Putin's plans are tantamount to admitting fear of losing the Ukraine war.

Podolyak also accused the Russian leader of violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty by showing "his involvement in the crime."

Despite Putin's plan of placing tactical nuclear weapons in their neighboring country, the State Department said they had not yet seen any indications that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon.

Last week, Xi made his 3-day state visit to Russia to discuss with Putin his proposed peace plan to end the Ukraine conflict and deepen Beijing's ties with Moscow.

The signing of a joint statement was among the highlights of Xi's state visit to Russia.

Xi and Putin's joint statement included a provision stating the two countries' opposition to deploying nuclear weapons beyond their boundaries.

"All nuclear powers must not deploy their nuclear weapons beyond their national territories, and they must withdraw all nuclear weapons deployed abroad," according to the joint statement, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko outside Moscow