Like a salesman buttering up his best customer, President Vladimir Putin gushed about China’s economic success as he welcomed Chinese leader Xi Jinping to the Kremlin.
“We even feel a bit envious,” Putin said Monday as Xi grinned.
That was more than idle flattery. China isn’t just Moscow’s diplomatic partner in opposing what they see as U.S. domination of global affairs. Its thriving economy is the biggest buyer of Russian oil and gas exports, pumping billions of dollars into Putin’s treasury and helping the Kremlin resist Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
Putin welcomes the lifeline, but that reliance is accelerating Russia’s slide into the junior role in an uneasy relationship with Xi’s government. Beijing has ambitions that diverge from Moscow’s and sometimes conflict.
“Russia may worry about increasing reliance upon China, but it has no other good options,” said Li Xin, director of the Institute of European and Asian Studies at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. [Continue reading…]