As Moscow’s relationship with the West continues to deteriorate, Russia has engaged in a concerted and very public “pivot to Asia,” the focus of which has been to deepen its relationship with China. Beyond the rhetoric, however, is there a sufficient overlap of interests between Moscow and Beijing for the two sides to actually implement a formal alliance?
Russia and China do share a number of key interests, starting with energy. After nearly a decade of negotiations, during a visit to Beijing in May, President Vladimir Putin signed a 30-year, $400 billion deal for Russia to supply China with 38 billion cubic meters of gas per year to be transported from remote fields in eastern Siberia via a planned 4,000-kilometer pipeline.
In addition to this “eastern route” project, Putin recently asserted that negotiations are ongoing for a second, “western route” pipeline project that would carry gas from Altai to northwestern China.
Military cooperation is another rapidly developing pole of the Russia-China relationship. Earlier this year, Russia and China conducted a joint naval drill in the East China Sea, and according to Russia’s TASS news agency, the two sides will hold two more joint-naval drills next year, one in the Pacific and one in the Mediterranean.