Russia’s Blockbuster Gas Deal Makes It Look Weak

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The politics of energy are getting ever more interesting following the signing of a historic 30 year gas deal between China and Russia. The deal has been portrayed as Putin’s revenge for Western sanctions imposed following the conflict in the Ukraine. He’s sending a message that Russia has other options aside from exporting its natural resources to Europe. (The U.S. is increasingly energy independent and doesn’t need Russian gas.) The photo-op of Chinese president Xi Jinping and Putin downing a shot of vodka following the deal close was classic.

Looming Generational Change in Central Asian Leadership

By Paul Goble

Not for the first time, a website has reported the death or incapacitation of a Central Asian leader only to have the report swiftly taken down and denied (see the blanked out “story” at dallol.ru/news-i1221.html). Up to now, these reports have not been accurate at least since the death of Turkmenistan’s Saparmurat Niyazov (“Turkmenbashi”) in 2006. Their increasing frequency surely reflects the fears or hopes of some in the region. But just as importantly, such stories highlight the aging of the two most important leaders in Central Asia and the certainty that, at some point, they will pass from the scene.