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China, Russia agree to $400 billion gas deal

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China agreed today to a $400 billion deal to buy Russian natural gas over a 30-year period in what is being called a "financial and diplomatic boost" for Moscow. The contract, which was signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin's two-day trip to China, calls for Russia's state-controlled Gazprom to supply 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually to a Chinese-owned oil outlet.

Observers see the deal as a move by Putin to shift his country's commercial interests away from the United States and Europe as the West continues to sanction Russia over its invasion of the Crimean peninsula in February and other violations of Ukrainian sovereignty. Putin was greeted warmly by the Chinese and the two countries signed several other agreements.

An international relations expert called the deal "good news" for both countries. "The political requirements on both sides are so powerful they can overcome the concerns on price," said Shi Yinhong of Beijing's People's University. "This is a political action by both sides."