Tuesday, March 26, 2013

First results from the Russia-China partnership

Results from the new Russian-Chinese strategic partnership are coming in fast.

First, Russia has agreed to sell China 4 advanced diesel-electric submarines of the "Lada" class (aka Project 677):

Project 677

This type of submarine is one of the most advanced in its class, even superior to its formidable predecessor the "Kilo" class Project 636 which was already so silent that it was nicknamed the "Black Hole" because for its ability to avoid detection.  Lada class submarines excel in many roles including anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare and reconnaissance, and it has an advanced automated combat system.

Second, Russia will also sell China 24 of its advanced SU-35 multi-role combat aircraft:


The Sukhoi SU-35 is considered a 4++ generation aircraft meaning that while the airframe is still of the 4th generation, the systems installed on-board are already of the 5th generation.  Though these are very different aircraft, it is widely admitted that the only aircraft which could match or even exceed the formidable capabilities of the SU-35 in air-to-air combat would be the American F-22 (in the ground attack role the SU-35 is far more capable than the F-22).

In other words, China is now acquiring the kind of military hardware which no other Asian country possesses and which will present the United States with a very serious challenge.

Third, Russia and China also signed a huge energy deal.  The WSJ reports:
After more than a decade of talks, Russia has agreed to supply China with natural gas, a deal that could see China surpass Germany as the largest importer of Russian gas.  Officials Friday signed a raft of other energy agreements, including one to double Russian oil supplies and hand China's state oil company a stake in Russian oil fields, tightening the nexus between Russia, the world's largest energy producer, and China, the hungriest consumer.   Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Moscow on his first foreign trip as leader, called the accords a "breakthrough" at a signing ceremony in the Kremlin Friday. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the visit would have "long-term, historic results."  Russian state gas giant OAO Gazprom  said it would conclude a 30-year supply deal with the Chinese by the end of the year, just as the company is struggling with declining demand and regulatory pressure in its core market of Europe.  Under the terms of the memorandum, annual deliveries of 38 billion cubic meters of gas will start in 2018. Supplies could eventually reach 60 billion cubic meters a year, Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller told reporters after the signing ceremony. Germany, long the largest consumer of Russian gas, imported 33 billion cubic meters last year.
One particularly interesting aspect of all this are the comments made by the state-run China Daily which described this strategic partnerships as "a well-deserved riposte to Washington for America's military 'pivot' to Asia. Xi is executing China's own 'pivot' - the visit to Moscow to cement ties with Mr Putin.  Xi's decision to make Moscow the destination of his first official visit as China's president will give the US a sharp reminder that it is not the only power able to flex its muscles" the report, translated by BBC Monitoring, went on.

No kidding!

The Saker

Defense Ministers Chang Wanquan and Sergei Shoigu