Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met in the Kremlin on Tuesday, signing documents on “strategic cooperation” between their countries. Putin praised China’s role as Russia’s most important economic partner and predicted that their cooperation would continue to benefit both countries’ peoples.
Xi’s visit came at a critical time for Putin as he faces a hostile West and Russia continues to make little progress in Ukraine despite heavy losses.
During the talks, Putin announced that Russia, China, and Mongolia had completed all agreements on a planned Power of Siberia 2 pipeline, which will deliver 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from Russia to China via Mongolia.
Putin also expressed Moscow’s willingness to increase oil exports to Beijing and to help Chinese businesses replace Western firms that have left Russia over the Ukraine conflict.
Xi called for greater “practical cooperation” between China and Russia and noted the early benefits of their partnership. Russia’s Gazprom already supplies gas to China through the Power of Siberia pipeline under a 30-year, $400 billion deal launched at the end of 2019.
However, Russia’s gas exports to China remain a small fraction of the record 177 billion cubic meters it delivered to Europe in 2018-19. Since the start of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, volumes to Europe have shrunk to around 62 billion cubic meters in 2022.
The planned Power of Siberia 2 pipeline has gained urgency as Russia seeks to replace Europe as its major gas customer. Putin’s meeting with Xi underscores Russia’s pivot towards China and highlights the growing importance of the China-Russia partnership in the face of Western sanctions and pressure.
The strategic cooperation between Russia and China could also have wider implications for regional and global politics, as both countries seek to counterbalance the influence of the United States and its allies. Overall, Putin and Xi’s meeting in the Kremlin reaffirmed the importance of the China-Russia partnership and highlighted the potential for further economic and political cooperation between the two nations.