Russia’s new president, Dmitry Medvedev, arrives Friday. Notable as it is that he is making China the destination for his first official trip abroad, the route he is taking is even more so.
He will arrive via Kazakhstan, the energy rich former Soviet republic that is both playing an increasingly pivotal role in Central Asia and looking to lessen its trade dependence on Russia by selling more to China. China, for its part, is becoming a big financier of Kazakhstan’s energy and infrastructure projects. Medvedev will be looking to shore up Moscow’s traditional economic links with Astana.
Trade will also be a focus of the Beijing leg of the trip, with Russia wanting China to buy more than just its raw materials. A bevy of businessmen from the engineering and electronics industries will accompany Medvedev. Bilateral trade grew five-fold to $48 billion a year during President Putin’s time, reflecting the closer political relationship between the two countries who find common ground in seeking counterweights to the U.S.’s global power.