China, Russia sign memorandum of understanding on second major natural gas route

BEIJING, China – The leaders of China and Russia signed agreements Sunday to boost energy co-operation, including an understanding to develop a second major route to supply the Chinese side with Russian gas following an initial $400 billion deal in May.

The co-operation with China gives Russia a boost at a time when Washington and the European Union have imposed sanctions against Moscow and grown increasingly wary of the Kremlin because of the crisis in Ukraine.

Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia presided over the signing of the accords, which also included financing agreements, after meeting in Beijing ahead of this week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

“Regarding co-operation in the international sphere, the most important thing is co-operation between China and Russia to keep the world within the framework of international law, to make it more stable, more predictable,” Putin said. “Together we’ve done a lot to achieve that, and I am sure we will work in this direction in the future.”

One of the memorandums of understanding is to develop a western route for the delivery of Russian gas, following the May agreement to supply 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually through an eastern route.

“Together we have carefully taken care of the tree of Russian-Chinese relations. Now fall has set in, it’s harvest time,” Xi said.

The deals give Russia a way to vastly expand its market for its gas, which now goes mostly to Europe. For China, the world’s second-largest economy, the co-operation helps ease gas shortages and curb its reliance on coal.