Mark Leonard, Director, ECFR
Alexander Gabuev, Journalist for the daily newspaper Kommersant and Visiting Fellow at ECFR
Olaf Böhnke, Head of ECFR Berlin
A $400 billion gas deal, a $24.5 billion currency swap agreement and securing Chinese participation in Russian infrastructure projects: from an initially apprehensive reaction to China’s economic rise, Putin’s Russia has made a dramatic turn towards Beijing after the imposition of sanctions last year by the European Union and the United States in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. This Asian pivot is deemed to present a way for Moscow to strengthen the most vulnerable parts of Russia’s economy: the dependence on the European energy market, as well as on Western capital markets and technologies. Such close and comprehensive economic ties, however, are likely to lead to a realignment of geopolitical power relations of the post-Cold War era.
During a Black Coffee Morning organised by ECFR’s Berlin Office on 3 March 2015, Mark Leonard (Director of ECFR) and Alexander Gabuev (Journalist for the daily newspaper Kommersant and Visiting Fellow at ECFR) discussed these unforeseen consequences of the crisis in Ukraine, namely the Russian pivot to Asia and the emergence of China as a Eurasian power. They detailed the short- and long-term consequences of Russia’s reorientation towards China and the significance of this changing geopolitical landscape for European countries. Following the expert inputs, participants from politics, diplomacy, civil society and media analysed these recent developments in Sino-Russian relations, exploring ways of countering Moscow on its way of becoming even more assertive both regionally and globally.