Russia opens gas pipeline to China
Russia and China have increased their collaboration in the Arctic Circle as Moscow opens a natural gas pipeline in Siberia to Beijing.
The pipeline comes after China unveiled a plan nearly two years ago called the “Polar Silk Road,” expanding its campaign for influence to the Arctic.
As well as China’s expansion for influence in the area, it’s beneficial for Russia since it’s suffering from strained relationships with Western countries. China can offer Moscow more economic opportunities in the energy sector and may prove to be a powerful ally.
Russian President Vladimir Putin characterised it as a "genuinely historical event [...] for us, for Russia and China." The pipeline, he continued, "takes Russia-China energy cooperation to a whole new level and brings us closer to achieving the goal set together with Chinese President Xi Jinping of extending bilateral trade turnover to $200 billion in 2024."
Chinese President Xi Jinping dubbed the launch "the start of a new stage of our co-operation,” adding that the pipeline was an "all-encompassing partnership and strategic co-operation entering a new epoch."
He also agreed that "developing Russia-China relations is and will be a priority in our countries' foreign policy."
The opening of the pipeline was negotiated in a $400.0bn deal signed in 2014 and envisages a 3,000 km long “Power of Siberia” pipeline stretching from Russia’s Siberian fields to China’s historically coal-burning northeast.
Reuters reported that Russia’s Gazprom expects the LNG pipeline to initially supply 4.6bn cubic meters (bcm) of gas in 2020 before ramping up to its full capacity of 38.0 bcm by 2025.
The closer relationship between both sides is particularly concerning for the United States due to the trade war with China and the tensions with Russian military policies and malicious hackers.
Furthermore, Iran has now announced that it will be joining Russia and China for joint, month-long military exercises in the northern Indian Ocean starting December 22.