Nunn: China Possible Key to De-Escalating Putin’s Nuclear Threats

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The key to moderating Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling likely lies with Chinese President Xi Jinping, former Sen. Sam Nunn and two colleagues wrote in a commentary for the Washington Post published Thursday. 

Nunn, a distinguished professor of the practice and namesake of the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, co-authored the piece with retired Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz. All three serve on the Nuclear Threat Initiative board of directors. 

“The course Putin has threatened would be a global disaster, with unique implications for China,” Nunn and his co-authors wrote in the piece. “That’s likely why Beijing has moved from a rhetorical ‘no limits’ friendship to now urging the Kremlin to de-escalate. Much more is needed to influence Putin.” 

“The most sensible policy choice for China is to wield its unique position of influence to encourage more ‘rational’ decision-making by Putin. In particular, President Xi must make clear to Putin that nuclear use is a line he must not cross, and nuclear saber-rattling itself threatens the global nuclear order.” 

In addition to Nunn, Georgia Tech’s Nunn School has significant global expertise in Russia and the conflict in Ukraine, and Chinese foreign policy. 

On Oct. 6, the School is sponsoring a discussion on “Ukraine: Back to the Future (of Warfare)” featuring Michele Flournoy, a Nunn School distinguished professor of the practice who previously served in high-ranking Department of Defense posts. 

The School held a discussion in September on “Russia Today: Historical & Personal Perspectives,” moderated by Chair Adam Stulberg, who has been researching and writing about political tensions between Russia and the United States for decades. 

Margaret E. Kosal, an associate professor in the School, recently spoke to CBS News about the threat to Ukraine’s nuclear power plant from Russian shelling,  

Retired Gen. Philip Breedlove, a former NATO commander, and former Defense Department official Bob Bell —both distinguished professors of the practice in the Nunn School — have deep expertise on the region and have spoken frequently on the conflict. 


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: mpearson34
  • Created: 09/30/2022
  • Modified By: mpearson34
  • Modified: 09/30/2022


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