Accompanying Vladimir Putin on his recent trip to China was sanctions-hit oligarch Gennady Timchenko, who has landed the very lucrative position of “point person” in Moscow’s invigorated trade relationship with Beijing. Reuters reports:
Businessman Gennady Timchenko, who has had sanctions imposed on him by the United States, has been appointed Russia’s main point person for business relations with China and expects a flurry of deals in a shift away from the West. […]“You know what Putin said? He introduced me (to Chinese businessmen) by saying now Mr Timchenko is the head of our business council. In other words – it is my words here – he is our main man for China. From the point of view of business relations. That was yesterday,” said Timchenko who accompanied Putin on a trip to China.
Timchenko’s new position hints at a much broader Russian strategy. Snubbed by the West for its annexation of Crimea and its aggression in Ukraine, Russia is looking elsewhere to shore up its trade relationships. Yesterday, Putin inked a $400 billion deal, more than a decade in the making, to sell billions of cubic feet of natural gas to China.While the West wrestles with its options, Moscow is already working to strengthen its bargaining position. Is this the beginning of a Russian pivot to Asia? It sure looks like it.