He “deal of the century” It was not possible. Vladimir Putin had named the agreement for the construction of a second gas pipeline that would carry the supply from Siberia until China through Mongolia. He Siberian Power 2 -There is already a smaller one- was going to compensate for the losses that Moscow is having when it ran out of the European markets after the invasion of Ukraine last year. And the meeting in Moscow this week with the Chinese leader Xi Jinping it would end, according to Putin’s rhetoric, by giving the final stitch to the economic pact. But left empty handed. Xi returned to Beijing without signing a single paper that commits him to the gas pipeline that his Russian colleague wanted so much.
And it’s not that Putin didn’t have Xi’s support. Quite the opposite. It was a summit that marked a geopolitical milestone. An anti-liberal and anti-Western pact was sealed, marking a change “that had not occurred in 100 years,” according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Xi knows that he has Putin on his hands. Russia is highly dependent on what China is going to do about the war in Ukraine: by providing it with strategic weapons, Putin can achieve his dream of reconquering territories “lost” with the disintegration of the former Soviet Union. For now, that is not happening. Xi knows that one wrong move on European ground could leave him in a bad position for the major confrontation with the United States in the South Pacific. Nor would it sacrifice China’s economic self-interest beyond highly important token support for its “dear friend.”
“Xi’s trip offered Putin important moral support, especially within hours of being sanctioned as a war criminal, and Chinese trade has propped up the Russian economy, but the lack of a deal on Siberian Power 2 showed the limits of what Xi is willing to do”, commented Janis KlügeRussian economy expert from German Institute for International and Security Affairsin an interview with the Washington Post. “China does not want Russia to lose the war in Ukraine or the Putin regime to collapse. But this does not mean that the relationship is flourishing, ”she added. “There is now a clear dependency where before there was a more symmetrical relationship. We can see that China is offering nothing more than tokens of this visit, and we can see that China is also more careful in its dealings with Moscow.”
Everything was made clear in the diplomatic language used when describing the results of the summit. Putin assured journalists that the deal for Power of Siberia 2 was ready “practically in all parameters”. From Beijing they did not deny it, but outside the microphones they clarified that “practically all the parameters” are not “all parameters”. There is still a lot to be resolved before this gas pipeline can be operational, which could lead to 98,000 cubic meters of gas by 2030.
Russia proposed the route years ago, and the project has now been precipitated by Russia’s pressing need to export its surplus after breaking agreements it had with Germany and other European countries. would be more than 2,600 kilometers to bring the huge reserves of the Yamal Peninsula, west of Siberia, to China. The original pipeline, the Power of Siberia I, already exists, reaching the northeastern Chinese province of heilongjiang. The new project would take the supply through Mongolia to the great Chinese coastal industrial centers. Engineers envision it could carry 50,000 million cubic meters of gas per yearsomewhat less than the already defunct Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which linked Russia with Germany below the Baltic Sea.
The Russian state company Gazpromalready supplies gas to China through the first gas pipeline by an agreement of 400,000 million dollars to 30 yearswhich was commissioned at the end of 2019. It is expected to supply 22 billion cubic meters of gas this year and increase its volume to reach a total capacity of 38 billion cubic meters in 2027. In February 2022, Beijing will also agreed to buy gas from the Russian island of Sakhalinin the Russian Far East, which will be transported by a new pipeline through the Sea of Japanreaching 10,000 million cubic meters per year around 2026.
But China has a range of possibilities to supply itself with gas and its imports are highly diversified. Between 2019 and 2020, Russia supplied 3 percent of China’s natural gas, against Turkmenistan’s 10 percent and Australian liquefied natural gas (LNG) 12 percent., according to the Energy Policy Research Foundation. And right now, Chinese experts are negotiating a new gas pipeline, the D Central Asia-China, to get 25 billion cubic meters of gas a year for 30 years from Turkmenistan through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In addition, it has long-term contracts with Qatar, USA and the world’s major oil companies for the supply of LNG. Last year it imported 63.4 million tons of this refrigerated fuel.
“It is obvious that Russia needs the contract,” he complained. Konstantin Simonovdirector of National Energy Security Fund russian to Business FM from Moscow. “Gazprom needs the contract, because last year we had a drop in supplies to the European Union of more than 80,000 million cubic meters. It is a quite serious volume, and this year we can lose another 30,000 or 40,000 million cubic meters”.
According to world BankRussia would currently have barely 15 percent of international gas trade when two years ago it had double, and its net income from exports would plummet to less than $30 billion from $75 billion in that period.
A hard blow for Putin and his dreams of recreating the Great Russian Motherland of the time of the tsars and the USSR of the communist dictators of the Kremlin. no money no war. Still, China will not let its ally fall very quickly. She knows that if she maintains her ambiguous support for Moscow, weakens its true rival the United States that it will have to continue to prop up Ukraine in the long term. For Beijing, Russia today is a younger sister than he is doing the “dirty work” of “wearing down” his enemy. With that outlook in mind, he will keep the gas deal in limbo until it suits him or not to bail it out for his more far-reaching, longer-term plan.
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