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China Pushing Russia Out of Kazakhstan

Last week, one of the world’s biggest, most expensive, and technically fraught oil fields produced its first barrel of oil. Kashagan, as the field is called, is located in Kazakhstan, in the North Caspian Sea, and was developed by a consortium of energy giants that shared the massive risk of pouring in $50 billion and a decade of legwork. Obviously the field is a boon to Kazakhstan, but China is also coming out on top, as the NYT reports:

Here in Kazakhstan, the most prosperous of the former Soviet republics, Mr. Xi formalized the $5 billion deal for Kashagan, which for the first time places China in a consortium alongside the big international players: Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and the Italian company ENI.

President Xi Jinping was in the region recently to celebrate, another indication that China’s influence has eclipsed even Russia’s across the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

China’s urgent quest for energy is the main driver of its strategic interest in a region whose proximity allows huge reserves of oil and gas to be moved overland through Chinese-built pipelines rather than by ship through American-dominated sea lanes from the Middle East.

The NYT goes on to list Chinese energy projects in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which together with the Kashagan deal make for a significant push westward for the energy-hungry giant. A lot of Beijing’s increased involvement in eastern Europe is coming at the expense of Moscow, which has seen its former Soviet states buck its bullying influence recently. China’s hunger is trumping Russia’s complacency.

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  • lukelea

    I predict China will come to dominate these regions, by military force if necessary. It could happen sooner than we think, as a way to deflect nationalist emotions to these targets of opportunity. More than the South China Sea, this is the likely scene of future Chinese aggression.

    • f1b0nacc1

      China is well aware that aggression in the South Sea may bring them into conflict (directly or indirectly) with the US, and that they cannot afford. Conflict with the Russians, on the other hand, they can easily afford, and might even welcome depending upon what the Soviets used to call ‘the correlation of forces’…
      Couldnt’ happen to a nicer bunch of people….

  • crabtown

    Vlad’s being ringed. We’re not looking so bad now, are we, Vlad?

  • USNK2

    Russia, China, and the ‘Stans’ all belong to Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
    Russia will let China have the oil in an effort to keep China from further de facto re-occupation of Siberia, which Tsarist Russia occupied from a weak China in the 17th century.
    VM needs to add more dots before trying to connect them, especially when the dots are in Central Asia.

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