China Frustrated as Putin Stands Firm in Energy Negotiations

Written by Henrik Rothen

Apr.20 - 2024 10:49 AM CET

Photo: Kremlin
Photo: Kremlin
As Russia and China wrestle over the terms of the "Power of Siberia 2" pipeline, a diplomatic deadlock looms, testing the limits of their strategic partnership.

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As the negotiations over the ambitious "Power of Siberia 2" gas pipeline project approach their climax, Russia's firm stance on commercial terms has sparked exasperation in China, according to reports from Baijiahao, a Chinese media outlet.

A Partnership Tested

Russia and China have often boasted of a "boundary-less friendship," yet even the best of neighbors can hit a rough patch. The current negotiations over the second phase of the "Power of Siberia" gas pipeline have become a testament to this complex relationship.

The project, significant for both nations, hinges on a lingering commercial disagreement that has notably stiffened the diplomatic atmosphere.

Sergey Mochalnikov, the Russian Deputy Minister of Energy, recently commented on the stubborn nature of the negotiations.

He stated that a contract would only be signed once an agreement on the commercial terms, including gas prices, is reached. This reflects a broader reluctance by both nations to compromise on terms that could dictate the economic landscape of their energy trade for years to come.

A Tactical Tug-of-War

China, with its access to multiple energy supply channels and no immediate shortage of fuel, is negotiating from a position of strength. Beijing expects Moscow to yield to its terms, given the alternatives it has at its disposal. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin's response has been anything but yielding. His firm approach at the negotiation table has been met with frustration in Chinese circles.

Baijiahao reporters noted that while China is not eager to push Russia into a corner with unacceptable demands, it also will not compromise at the expense of its own interests. This deadlock raises concerns in China about the potential stalling of the project should neither side relent.

The ongoing standoff has ignited a mixture of respect and indignation among observers in China, who fear that without concessions, the project might be doomed. The hope in Beijing is that Moscow might eventually make concessions.

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