Ever since Russia became something of a rogue state in the eyes of its European energy clients, it has tried to demonstrate that it can mostly do without them — if not immediately, then in a few years' time.

Two major deals have been announced since the annexation of Crimea, one with China and the other with Turkey. It looks increasingly likely, though, that neither of these is a deal in any conventional sense and that Russia is merely putting on a desperate show.

In May, Putin went to Beijing to press for a $400 billion contract to send gas to China through a new pipeline, dubbed Power of Siberia.