The leaders of Russia and China have overseen the inauguration of a landmark pipeline project, which is set to be delivering Russian natural gas from Serbia to China, as Beijing and Moscow move to strengthen economic and political relations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping participated via a video link in a ceremony to launch the 3,000-kilometer Power of Siberia pipeline.
The pipeline will transport Russian natural gas from eastern Serbia to northeast China. Gas flows via the pipeline will rise to 38 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year in 2025.
Putin called the pipeline “the world’s biggest construction project.”
“This is a genuinely historic event not only for the global energy market but above all for us, for Russia and China,” he said from the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
“This step takes Russo-Chinese strategic cooperation in energy to a qualitative new level and brings us closer to (fulfilling) the task, set together with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, of taking bilateral trade to $200 billion by 2024,” the Russian leader added.
In turn, the Chinese leader said the newly-launched pipeline was “a landmark project of bilateral energy cooperation” and an “example of deep integration and mutually beneficial cooperation.”
Neither Xi, nor Putin commented on Monday on the gas price Beijing is set to pay under the contract, but the project is expected to last for three decades and generate $400 billion for Russian state coffers.
Experts say the project will possibly turn China to Russia’s second-largest gas customer after Germany.
The pipeline is launched as Moscow is already expected to launch two other major energy projects to Germany and Turkey.
The Nord Steam 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea is expected to flow Russian gas to Germany and the TurkStream pipeline is scheduled to take the gas to Turkey across the Black Sea.
US President Donald Trump previously threatened to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2, saying that reliance on Russian energy makes Germany a “captive” of Moscow.