So in striking a big new deal to supply natural gas to China, has Vladimir Putin outmaneuvered the U.S. and its European friends yet again? Much as Russia's president would like you to think so, not really.
Putin called today's accord an "epochal event." The governments' joint statement contained thinly veiled criticism of U.S. and European Union actions over Ukraine, inviting the world to view the deal in the context of that dispute. The timing is certainly no accident, and a closer relationship between Russia and China is hardly a matter of indifference to the rest of the world.