If you're looking for the TL;DR on Xi's visit with Putin, it is this: China's domination of Russia is complete.

(a 🧵)

I'm generally skeptical about official statements from summits -- especially between unaccountable autocrats -- but even so, the statements coming from the Xi-Putin summit in Moscow are remarkable, mostly because they are so one-sided.

First things first: The Chinese "peace plan" is a nothing-burger. Putin said it's a good place to start, "when the West and Kyiv are ready", knowing full well that a plan that leaves Ukrainian territory in Russian hands is a non-starter.

Unless something surprising happens when Xi calls Zelensky, this is a gift to Putin -- essentially permission from Beijing to keep fighting.

It is, though, Xi's only gift to Putin.

Xi praised Putin, touted strong relations with Russia, unity in the UNSC, and promised coordination on IT and natural resources trade.

And that's it.

Putin, by contrast, was almost obscenely generous -- and not just with his praise.

Let's start with energy: he pledged completion of the Strength of Siberia 2 pipeline and more throughout to come for "uninterrupted" oil and gas deliveries to China.

While that might sound like a boon for Russia -- export revenue! -- it replaces structural dependence on Europe with structural dependence on China, at a time when Russia is a price taker for hydrocarbons. That's a strategic win for China.

Further, Putin announced a reorientation of agricultural trade towards China and a strategic role for China in developing Russia's far east and high north -- a move Putin's own security apparatus has long resisted (for obvious reasons). Again, strategic wins for China.

Further still, Russia offered to begin using Yuan in transactions with non-Western countries. I'm not convinced this will ever happen, but if it does, it strengthens the Yuan while undermining the Ruble. Note Xi didn't offer to start using Rubles.

And Russia offered Chinese companies first dibs on the assets of departing Western companies -- again strengthening China's presence in Russia, with no reciprocal strengthening of Russia's presence in China.

To be clear, there are situational benefits for Moscow in each of these things, and in others. But I'm struggling to come up with something that Xi wants from Putin that he didn't get -- and the list of things Putin wants from Xi and didn't get is considerable.

While there were undoubtedly agreements we are not meant to know about, there is no indication here of a significant increase in military support for Russia -- nor even of a willingness on Xi's part to ramp up diplomatic support. A swing and a miss for Putin.

While Putin offered privileged positions and subsidies, Xi didn't exactly come bearing investment. The most he put on the table economically was trade facilitation.

Rhetorically, too, the summit was lopsided. Putin praised Xi's successes in China and its leading role in the world. Xi said that Putin was a reliable partner.

Even Xi's endorsement of Putin's electoral chances in 2024 was, frankly, humiliating (coming from a man who doesn't even have to pretend to win an election).

Putin greeted Xi with a rhetorical bear hug. Xi gave Putin a pat on the head and told him to run along now and play.

This summit, then, brings home exactly how much Putin has lost. Prior to the war -- even after 2014 -- Putin occupied a position of strategic maneuverability. He could arbitrage between east and west, reaping windfalls for his regime along the way.

That's all gone now.

Putin tells his people he's fighting for Russia's sovereignty. In truth, he's mortgaged the Kremlin to Beijing.

The question now is one for Xi: What will he do with his newest acquisition?


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