Russian President Vladimir Putin is due in China this week for a high-stakes visit that should signal the strength and scope of the countries’ “no limits” friendship.
Putin will be attending China’s Belt and Road Forum, set for Tuesday and Wednesday, as Beijing marks the 10th anniversary of its initiative to build infrastructure stretching from Asia to Europe and Africa. The Russian president is expected to push for new energy deals and an expansion of infrastructure projects — two of the six official BRI economic corridors run through Russia — while pitching investment opportunities in the void left by Western companies.
But experts note China has been treading carefully since the Kremlin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. “China doesn’t want to associate with the aggression,” said Tatiana Mitrova, a research fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy. “Since the beginning of the war, China has behaved very cautiously towards Russia, mainly focusing on purchasing increased volumes of Russian energy resources at discounted prices” while avoiding fresh projects.
The nature of any deals struck this week — or a lack of agreements — could therefore shine a new light on Beijing’s geopolitical positioning.
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