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China’s expanding reach and growing influence in Central and Eastern Europe

For the past couple of years, while everyone has been watching Vladimir Putin’s moves in Eastern Europe, China has been making increasing economic inroads on Russia’s periphery. Its economic dominance of Moscow’s traditional backyard, Central Asia, is well known, but less well known is its growing presence in other areas of Russia’s periphery, such as the Caucasus and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Beijing is pledging tens of billions of dollars of investment and aid and signing major cooperation agreements with everyone from the Republic of Georgia to Romania to Belarus, and in the process is gaining political influence and beginning to reshape the geopolitics of the region. This influence will come at the expense both of Russia and of the West.