Dec 3, 2019

China and Russia display deepening ties with new pipeline

Putin gets some FaceTime with Xi. Photo: Noel Celis - Pool/Getty Images

An 1,800-mile-long symbol of one of the world's most important geopolitical partnerships began delivering Russian gas to China today, the countries’ presidents announced.

By the numbers: The Power of Siberia pipeline is expected to “generate $400 billion for Russian state coffers” over three decades, per Reuters:

  • “The move cements China’s spot as Russia’s top export market and gives Russia a potentially enormous new market outside Europe. It also comes as Moscow is hoping to launch two other major energy projects — the Nord Steam 2 undersea Baltic gas pipeline to Germany and the TurkStream pipeline to Turkey and southern Europe.”
  • Vladimir Putin hailed it as “a genuinely historical event” on a video link with Xi Jinping, who emphasized the deepening ties between the countries.

My thought bubble: The pipeline could also be seen as a physical manifestation of Putin’s China strategy. He is squeezing everything he can out of a relationship that currently provides massive economic and strategic benefits, while putting off the question of what the increasingly unequal relationship across one of the world’s longest borders means for Russia.

Go deeper: Our special report on 20 Years of Putin.

Go deeper

20 Years of Putin: The pinnacle of power and the fear of losing it

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde. Photos via Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Twenty years ago, on New Year's Eve 1999, a political newcomer and former KGB operative named Vladimir Putin suddenly assumed the Russian presidency.

Part two of our "20 Years of Putin" special report examines what he has built, and what will happen to it when he's gone. It's based on conversations with exiled oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, three former U.S. ambassadors to Moscow, leading experts and former chiefs of the Pentagon and CIA. Read part one.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Dec 6, 2019

20 Years of Putin: Tracing his rise from KGB to Kremlin

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde. Photos via Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Twenty years ago today, on New Year's Eve 1999, a political newcomer and former KGB operative named Vladimir Putin suddenly assumed the Russian presidency.

Part 1 of our "20 Years of Putin" special report focuses on his rise, his early years and his escalating antagonism with the West. It's based on conversations with Mikhail Khodorkovsky — the oligarch whose imprisonment in 2003 revealed Putin's ruthlessness to the world — three former U.S. ambassadors to Moscow, leading experts and former chiefs of the Pentagon and CIA. Read part 2.

Dive inArrowUpdated Dec 31, 2019 - World

Congress confronts Trump on Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline

Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The House-Senate deal made on Monday on must-pass defense legislation would impose sanctions against companies helping Russia complete the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany.

Why it matters: Critics contend the project will bolster Russia's leverage in Europe plus erode energy security and Ukrainian access to Russian gas.

Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019