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Simultaneously, a draft law has been submitted to the Russian State Duma to guarantee the Chinese sovereignty over the rented territory; the same Kremlin that is so desperately defending Russian sovereignty from the malicious West is selling it for peanuts to China.

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The economic foundation underlying the Russo-Chinese tandem would seem to soften these geopolitical stumbling blocks, except for the fact that it isn’t very stable, at least when it comes to Russian interests.Russia bases its economic relationship with Beijing on three pillars—Russian gas, oil, and arms—and one hope: massive Chinese investment.China, of course, could purchase the Russian gas if Moscow reduced its price substantially, but this would make the whole project unprofitable for Russia.Moreover, Beijing refused to finance the Russian pipeline “Sila Sibiri” that was to be the jewel of the Russo-Chinese friendship.According to data provided by the Oxford Institute of Energy Research and CNPC (quoted by the Russian expert Mikhail Krutichin), China needs 180 cubic meters of gas, which is already supplied by Central Asia (40 percent) and from other sources.

“There is no place on the Chinese gas market for other suppliers”, says Krutichin.

But if the recent Chinese financial crash is a sign of China’s looming economic plunge, the symmetry of the two authoritarian giants falling down (albeit at different speeds) could propel them into a most disastrous struggle with one another for survival.

Let’s add to this the fact that authoritarian powers have no capacity or willingness to be gracious or sensitive when it comes to moral norms.

Even more important is the fact that Russia and China are at different stages of development.

Russia is in decline, and its current regime appears to have entered an agony that threatens to pull the country down into confusion and turmoil.

This case proves that Chinese penetration into Russia has not received a warm welcome.