In a video that was uploaded to the YouTube channel belonging to the Chinese state-run outlet, The Global Times, on February 28, 2022, former Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin commented on news that Russia has placed its nuclear forces on combat alert. Hu said that the nature of the Ukraine war must be clarified and defined in strategic terms, and that a key question is whether the war is a limited Russian countermove to NATO's eastward expansion or whether it is an attempt by Russia to destroy the international order, thereby justifying a life or death showdown for absolute victory of either the West or Russia. He said that if the latter is true, then "anything can happen," including nuclear escalation.
Hu then offered some "strategic wisdom" and said that neither the West nor Russia should assume that the other side is weak. He elaborated that Russia does not have the ability to conquer the West, but that the West should not aim to completely defeat Russia since Russia is a nuclear power. For more about Hu Xijin, who left his position as Editor-in-Chief of The Global Times in December 2021, see MEMRI TV Clips No. 9254, No. 9247, No. 9226, No. 9223, No. 9148, No. 9142, No. 9058, No. 8546, No. 8522, No. 8510, and No. 8504.
Hu Xijin: "Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday ordered Russian nuclear forces in 'special combat readiness.' I've noticed that the US quickly accused the move as a 'totally unacceptable' escalation. This is a very uneasy topic. I think we must figure out the nature of this war. The West calls it Russia's 'invasion.' This is a moral definition. But it is more important to give it a strategic definition.
"Is it Russia's limited countermove against NATO's eastward expansion, or a substantial destruction of the international order, which requires NATO to turn it into a life-and-death showdown?
"If there is no room for compromise, and if it must turn out to be an absolute victory for one party over the other - and the victory of NATO must be at the cost of the collapse of the Putin government and the safety of Putin himself and his main supporters - then I believe that anything can happen in the future, and whatever escalation there will be, it should not be surprising.
"And nuclear weapons will eventually be brought to the table. Therefore, I want to say that neither Russia nor the West should misunderstand that the other side is weak. They should not pursue absolute victory. Russia may be able to conquer Ukraine, but it definitely cannot conquer the West.
"On the other side, the West must not forget that Russia is a nuclear power. Therefore, the West should not seek to 'defeat' it. This is strategic wisdom."