Xi’s masterplan poised to humiliate Putin as China’s ‘leverage’ on Russia exposed

Philippe Lamberts says Putin and Xi Jinping 'aware' of EU links

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Chair of the Russia in the Asia-Pacific Programme at the Carnegie Moscow Centre Alexander Gabuev has warned that Russia’s plan to sell gas to China from the same fields it uses to export gas to Europe could have dire consequences. He said it could expose crack if reliance on the Chinese market becomes too one-sided.

This comes as Russia sent European gas prices soaring after decreasing the supplies of gas transiting through its vast network of pipelines.

But a weakness in Russia’s energy plot appears to be forming after the approval of their new Nord Stream 2 pipeline was suspended by German regulators.

Now, to avoid further EU efforts to reduce Russia’s grip on the energy market, Moscow is said to be looking to China as a trading partner to capitalise on its large gas reserves.

Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas company, recently announced that an agreement for a gas pipeline running from Siberia into China is close to being finalised.

Gazprom said the project, dubbed Power of Siberia, is due to be signed off early next year.

But this also comes as China has been experiencing energy problems of its own.

Soaring prices due to a reopening of the economy which saw demand for energy surge, as well as President Xi Jinping’s energy restrictions to meet climate targets, saw an energy crisis emerge which forced power shutdowns and power rationing ravages the country.

And while this could be a chance for Moscow to take advantage, Russia could become increasingly more dependant on China as a consumer of its pipeline gas while Europe phases out gas.

Mr Gabuev wrote for the Financial Times: “If one day, for example, Beijing wants Russia to stop arming India and Vietnam, how will Moscow refuse if the Chinese market is the major source of revenues filling the Kremlin’s coffers?”

And China on the other hand is starting to diversify its sources of energy imports, which Mr Gabuev explains will give it the upper hand.

He wrote: “China has diversified its sources of hydrocarbon imports, and it will be able to leverage market access in order to extract commercial and political concessions, just as it already does with Australia and other countries.”

But Mr Putin still does have a tight grip on the European energy market.

When the Russian President announced that he increase “gas supplies by as much as our partners ask”, gas prices in Europe dropeed by around 100p per therm.

But after the suspension of Nord Stream 2, it is unclear what Moscow’s next move will be.

Just last month, Mr Putin orchestrated a crisis on the Eu’s doorstep when he stopped transiting gas through Moldova, causing the country to declare a state of emergency.

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But countries begin to switch to renewable energy courses to meet climate targets on schedule, Russia might only be left with China as a trading partner for gas.

China’s President Xi Jinping and Mr Putin both missed the crucial COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, where major pledges to reduce emissions were agreed on.

But China did confirm that it would bring its emissions to a peak before 2030, with a plan to reach net zero by 2060, 10 years later than the UK and EU targets.

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