On February 28th, Russia’s energy giant Gazprom signed a contract to build a massive gas pipeline between both nations, the Soyuz Vostok project.

The deal came amid the backdrop of noxious sanctions from international governments against Russia for invading Ukraine.

According to Bloomberg, the new project could facilitate up to 50 billion cubic meters (1.8 trillion cubic feet) of Russian natural gas to China each year via Mongolia. A prior long-term deal between Gazprom and China was signed on February 4th, which promised a supply of 10 billion cubic meters per year over 25 years through the Far Eastern route called Power of Siberia 1.

The Soyuz Vostok project, also known as Power of Siberia 2, is bringing along an interconnector between its westbound and eastbound pipeline networks, allowing Russia to divert gas from reserves that currently solely supply Europe to China.

Bloomberg suggested this could alleviate Gazprom’s dependence on the European continent, which at present is still Russia’s most critical single gas buyer.

Although world powers have penalized Russia with heavy economic sanctions for its assault against Ukraine, the West has left Russian energy imports intact.

Europe relies on Russia for over 40% of its natural gas supply and has persisted so since the invasion began.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that China only accounted for 6.7% of Russian natural gas exports last year. In 2021, Russian shipments to China totaled 16.5 billion cubic meters (bcm), or around 12.07 million tonnes, satisfying about 5% of China’s demand.

The conflict has also drawn attention to how China would support its ally when the country is being isolated. Beijing has remained particularly vague in its responses until the announcement of the pipeline project on February 28th and the rejection to impose sanctions against Russia on March 2nd.

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