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Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Ufa, Russia, July 8, 2015. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the BRICS summits.

REUTERS/Alexander Nemenov/Pool

Russian dependence on China deepens

In public, there are “no limits” to the old and dear friendship between China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, two leaders with a common distaste for an international system dominated by Western-led political and economic institutions. But China’s economy and population were 10 times the size of Russia’s before Russia invaded Ukraine, and the mess that war has created for Putin leaves Moscow even more deeply dependent on Beijing.

That’s the clearest explanation for the failure (so far) of China and Russia to agree on a plan to build the “Power of Siberia 2” gas pipeline, a project that would deepen their economic interdependence. Aware the Ukraine war has cost Russia its European energy customers, according to a new report in the Financial Times, China is reportedly demanding a price per unit of Russian gas that’s even more steeply discounted than the price China already pays for it, which is less than half the price Europe paid before the invasion. China is also refusing to commit to purchase more than a small fraction of the pipeline’s capacity.

The two sides may one day agree on a deal to build this pipeline. But the terms of that agreement will reflect the reality that Russia’s near-term need for cash is far greater and more urgent than China’s immediate need for Russian gas.

Xi & "friend" Putin could call for Ukraine ceasefire
Xi & "friend" Putin could call for Ukraine ceasefire | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Xi & "friend" Putin could call for Ukraine ceasefire

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

The big story geopolitically is Xi Jinping's trip to Moscow, a three-day state visit, by far the most geopolitically significant summit of the year since the Russian invasion, frankly, a year ago. And also a deeply problematic geopolitical summit, in the sense that it goes strongly against the interests of the United States and all of its allies. Let's keep in mind this summit comes on the back of the International Criminal Court, that is recognized by 123 countries around the world, though not by Russia, the U.S. or China, declaring that Putin is a war criminal and that he should be arrested by any member state if he travels there. Indeed, the German government's already announced, if Putin were to go to Germany, that's it, they're arresting him. Never going to happen. But nonetheless, on the back of that, and then Putin's trip to Crimea and his trip to Mariupol occupied Ukrainian territory over this weekend. Mariupol, first time, he's been in territory the Russians have taken since February 24th.

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Image released by the Ministry of Defence of Britain shows file video of UK's Challenger 2 tanks.


What We’re Watching: Tank talks for Ukraine, South Africa’s military moves

Much ado about tanks for Ukraine

For months, Ukraine has been asking its NATO friends for modern tanks. Not Soviet-era relics from Poland, not light armored vehicles from the US and France, but heavy mechanized tanks to fight mighty Russia. But so far, only the UK has agreed to supply Kyiv with Challenger 2 tanks, which are 20 years old but the model most used by the British army. Why? The US, the big boss of NATO, has been slow-walking the Ukrainians on their demand for tanks because the Biden administration fears it might push Russia to escalate. Washington is also citing logistical and maintenance costs as part of the reason for not doing so. Germany, meanwhile, won’t send Leopard tanks — or allow other countries to send German-made tanks — until the US makes the first move by sending M1 Abrams tanks. While the Germans and the Americans try to iron out their differences, NATO defense ministers will likely press the issue on Friday when they meet US Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin in Germany. Russia, for its part, has already warned the West that giving Ukraine tanks would be a very bad idea.

Meanwhile, check out our GZERO field piece on how the tankless Ukrainians are making do with Mad Max-style killer dune buggies.

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Kevin Rudd: Xi thinks Putin is a "dummy"
Kevin Rudd: Xi Thinks Putin Is a “Dummy” | Asia Society | GZERO Media

Kevin Rudd: Xi thinks Putin is a "dummy"

Australia's former PM believes that the once-blossoming bromance between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin has turned toxic. Why? You guessed it: Russia's war in Ukraine.

China's leader thinks Putin is a "dummy" for launching a "halfcocked" invasion that neither the Russian military could pull off nor the Russian economy afford, Rudd — also president and CEO of the Asia Society — says during a conversation with Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer at the Asia Society's HQ in New York.

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Luisa Vieira

China-Russia relationship status: It’s complicated

The presidents of China and Russia will meet in person this week for the first time since early February, shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine. Back then, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin announced in Beijing a bilateral friendship "without limits." Seven months later, the relationship has strengthened but also seen trouble — and this is likely to continue.

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Water is dropped near a fireman as the Fairview Fire burns near Hemet, California.

REUTERS/David Swanson

California scorcher, Gulf states threaten Netflix, potential Putin-Xi meeting ​

California’s dystopian heatwave

Californians are bracing for mass power outages as the state of 40 million people suffers a record-breaking heatwave with temperatures in the triple digits. With residents cranking up air conditioners, state authorities say energy use statewide is hitting record levels. (The power grid is under added pressure because of the extreme heat, which makes power transmission less efficient.) Meanwhile, California’s independent grid operator called for energy rationing between 4 and 9 pm, advising residents to turn up their thermostats and avoid using energy-intensive equipment like dishwashers and washing machines. Indeed, the heatwave and energy crunch indicate that extreme weather events linked to climate change are pummeling countries in the developing and developed world alike. (With a GDP of $3.4 trillion in 2021, California’s economy is the largest in the US, surpassing countries like India and France.) As several wildfires broke out in Southern California in recent days, Governor Gavin Newsom warned that “we’re heading into the worst part of this heat wave.”

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