The reports that Mr Putin is ready to move on finishing the final link on his gas line to China are certainly interesting and, in my eyes, reflect his perceived need to boost his income statement in the near term while hoping that China will become dependent on his gas in the long run.
While it might be tactically nice to get a cash influx from the PRC that will allow Putin more flexibility in dealing with his difficult European neighbors, in the long run I question the strategic wisdom of his placing such an important element of Russia’s financial future in the hands of his Chinese neighbors. After all, China isn’t the Ukraine.
Who seriously doubts China’s intention to become the dominant Asian and Western Pacific power? If that goal is realized, how does that further Russian interests? It certainly doesn’t as they see their national power stretching from Murmansk to Crimea to Vladivostok. China doesn’t fit into that map.
The news in the past week indicates that others are willing to stand-up for their sovereign claims–Vietnamese ocean oil rights, and Japan’s move to modify their post-War Constitution in a way that would allow them to be more proactive in regional defense activities. Then, the Philippines have invited us to increase our presence in their Islands.
So, I wonder, why would it be important for China to enter into special arrangements with Russia when that could impinge on their ability to maintain friendly economic relations with the rest of the world? Certainly, politically, Russia is nothing but trouble. And, militarily, those two working together have the makings of a real mess between the two principals.