China in Russia's Near Abroad

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China seals a gas deal and wins influence in Central Asia.


There's been a lot of focus on U.S. foreign policy in Russia's "near abroad." Well, move over America:

With one flick of a switch today, Russia's long-standing dominance and near monopoly over Central Asian natural-gas exports officially came to an end.

The massive Turkmenistan-China pipeline, which will carry natural gas from eastern Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan into China's northwestern Xinjiang region, went on line today during an inauguration ceremony attended by regional leaders. It marks the first time in more than a decade that a pipeline has been constructed to pump gas out of the region, and the biggest-ever effort to export Central Asian gas without using Russian routes...

...Observers see RWE's activities as the first steps in securing Turkmen gas for Nabucco. And for Nabucco shareholders and supporters, the example of the new Turkmenistan-China going online demonstrates with certainty that it is possible to build a high-volume pipeline that avoids Russia.

The great game is on.

(AP Photos)

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