Russia’s pivot to China: a bridge to nowhere

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands.
Beijing, June 25, 2016: Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after concluding a number of business deals (source: dpa)
  • Russia is becoming ever more dependent on China
  • The Chinese perceive Russia primarily as a source of energy and raw materials, not a true and equal strategic partner
  • Barring far-reaching institutional reform, Russia will not be able to expand its footprint in Siberia and the Far East

During his June 2016 visit to China, Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw the signing of a slew of business contracts ranging from energy cooperation to joint construction of an advanced civilian heavy helicopter and a new, 770-kilometer bullet train line from Moscow to Kazan. Following years of improvement, the Sino-Russian “strategic partnership” looks better than ever. Is this a trend that will bring substantial longer-term economic and security rewards, or is it mere window dressing?

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