While Russia's focus remains on trade and military, Xi is likely to concentrate more on geopolitical matters.
"In economic terms, other than energy, Russia is unable to offer much of anything to China," said McNamee. Indeed, steady energy relations will be crucial for Xi after Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia to become China's largest oil supplier in March.
"Of far more importance is the political support Russia offers, regarding foreign policy matters at the United Nations, Group of 20 and other venues ... China, naturally, is happy to have a useful ally as it seeks to reform the existing U.S.-led order to attain its geopolitical goals," McNamee continued.
OBOR—Xi's landmark program to revive the ancient trading routes of the Silk Road encompassing Asia, Central Asia and Europe—is a key area where China needs Russian cooperation.
The influence Russia wields over smaller states in the region to secure enthusiastic participation as well as its mineral and energy wealth, which will be used in the broader economic development of member states, will be crucial for China, explained Rollo of the University of Sydney. If OBOR discussions between Putin and Xi go well, it could produce a rival to regional trade agreements, specifically the American-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TIIP), Rollo added.
Xi may also use the visit to discuss Chinese interests in the South Caucasus nation of Georgia. The country's Black Sea ports, east-west highway and railway infrastructure are invaluable assets for China's trade ambitions connecting the Eurasian interior and Europe, according to Stratfor.
Russia could also prove to be a useful partner tensions amid China's various territorial disputes with its Asian neighbors. Earlier this month, three Russian navy ships and a Chinese frigate passed through the disputed East China Sea at the same time, but there was no confirmation that the move was planned.
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