fredag 6. april 2018

Russia’s Unhappy Energy Marriage with China

As Putin has become the longest-serving Russian leader since Stalin, the country’s economic and political stagnation is drawing more and more comparisons to the Leonid Brezhnevera. Putin’s political system cannot survive the stresses imposed by major reforms needed to improve the economy, creating a deepening dependency on foreign policy in all its forms to secure legitimacy and, more importantly, money. By all appearances, his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, is tightening his control of the state and policy. This dynamic poses problems for the Kremlin’s most important relationship with a non-Western power.

Talk of Putin and Xi’s close personal relationship is largely a matter of PR messaging at a time when Russia needs China. Positive pronouncements do little to hide the difficulty both sides have in reaching real economic agreements in particular. Recent developments in the two countries’ energy ties and shifting personal power among those in and close to the Kremlin suggest that relations with China will continue to be warmer than ever on the surface, but ever more difficult to manage as the domestic political divergence between the two grows.