The bilateral meeting in Beijing will be demonstratively cordial but loaded with mutual disappointment. Putin cannot fail to see that his hopes for harvesting rich dividends from closer Russian ties with China have failed to materialize and delivered him to a position of one-sided dependency. Xi, meanwhile, has few doubts about the trajectory of Russia’s crisis and probably understands that Putin’s mismanagement brings risks of a catastrophically hard landing. While Russia’s aggressive assault on the European security system is not helpful for China’s plans regarding the evolutionary transformation of the global order. Vladimir Putin has announced his intention to address the United Nations General Assembly in late September; and in the absence of the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez or Muammar Qaddafi, he might receive a rousing ovation for the most anti-American and “down with the Western hegemony” speech. But China will likely hardly be entertained.
This is the bottom line from my article in Eurasia Daily Monitor, August 31.