ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA After moving to build closer ties with the United States and NATO, Russian President Vladimir Putin is turning to the East where Moscow's "strategic partner," China, has been jealously watching Russia's honeymoon with the West.
Putin met with Chinese President Jiang Zemin Thursday in St. Petersburg on the eve of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in the former Russian imperial capital. The group, dominated by Russia and China, also includes four former Soviet republics in Central Asia Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Participants of the summit are expected to sign the group's charter, making it a full-fledged international organization.
Speaking to a Chinese newspaper before the summit, Putin hailed the group's role in global security, saying it could help make Russia, China, United States and Europe parts of one "arc of stability."
The Russian-Chinese "strategic partnership" was cemented by their joint opposition to what both countries perceived as the threat of U.S. global domination.
"Russia's foreign policy throughout the 1990s was chaotically swaying between the United States and China," said Sergei Trush, an expert with the Moscow-based Institute for the United States and Canada at a roundtable on Russian-Chinese relations Wednesday. "Russia was trying to determine which of the two great powers was more important."