Ukraine Crisis: Russia vs US, EU…. And the Winner is Actually China

By @ibtimesau on
Russian President Putin Delivers a Speech during a Meeting at Kremlin in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a meeting at Kremlin in Moscow July 31, 2014. Reuters

As the United States and the European Union grapple to counter and control Russia's ambitious invasion and expansion plans, China's been pretty much just on the sidelines, watching and earning concrete advantages from the crisis over Ukraine.

On Monday, China and Russia launched the construction of a pipeline that will pump Russia's natural gas from Siberia to Shanghai. As western leaders threatened Russia for tougher economic sanctions as punishment for its aggression in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin was somewhere else strengthening its ties with China.

The strategic positioning is seen as a reward for China's abstention in March from a U.N. Security Council resolution vote that condemned Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Mr Putin had said that while Russia abhors other foreign partners trying to get into its land, "for our Chinese friends there are no limits."

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Russia is showing the western regions it still has options, and these options are found in the globe's eastward section.

And China will seem to seize the opportunity, according to Bobo Lo, a specialist in Chinese and Russian foreign policy.

Already, China has secured a long-delayed gas deal, they are expanding into upstream Russian energy projects, and there are good prospects for major arms sales. Moreover, imports of oil are estimated to expand substantially, he said.

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The 3,000km gas pipeline inaugurated on Monday in the remote Siberian city of Yakutsk will transport up to 38 billion cubic metres annually of Russian gas to China beginning 2019.

Until recently, Russia had been wary of giving China access to its oil and gas fields. Now facing a wall of economic sanctions, Russia is compelled to do business with China for its own sake.

Apart from the pipeline, both countries are involved in a railway bridge between the Chinese town of Tongjiang and the Russian city of Nizhneleninskoye in Siberia, a report by Xinhua said. This will link the Far East region with the Silk Road Economic Belt.

Read: Ukraine Crisis: Putin Dangles Nuclear War Threat, US Senators Advise Sending Defensive Weapons

"The two countries have defied the slowdown of world economy to register steady growth in bilateral trade," Xinhua said, "with two-way trade volume in the first five months of the year going up 4.3 per cent year on year to US$36.8 billion."

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