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Moscow’s Failed Pivot to China

And How It Benefits Europe

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and China's President Xi Jinping at a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 8, 2015. Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters

Ever since Europe imposed sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has held high hopes of countering them by strengthening its alliance with China on energy, defense, and agricultural trade and investments. Such partnerships would have made up for the loss of Russian energy exports to and food imports from key European countries, dampening the effects of the sanctions, and would have also shown the West how easily it can be replaced.

Unfortunately for Moscow, this strategy has failed. Russia has been unable, despite its efforts, to sufficiently step up trade and investment with China in its hydrocarbons, nuclear, and defense industries, among other things. To be sure, Russia has made several deals with China that, when implemented, could see oil and gas trade skyrocket. But the construction of two gas pipelines—the “Power of Siberia” and “Altai”—intended to bring gas from Siberia to parts of China

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