The visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to China, during which he was the main guest of the III International Forum "One Belt, One Road" and held three-hour talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, for many reasons became his most important visit to the PRC in the 21st century.

Everyone who followed the news from the Chinese capital, which was attended by heads of state and government, as well as representatives of the political and business elite of the non-Western world, for the first time saw a full illustration of the "just multipolarity." It was this new backbone principle of international relations that was being discussed in Sochi at the 20th anniversary meeting of the Valdai Club on the eve of the marathon of meetings and negotiations in Beijing.

Like the recent Valdai Forum, the forum in Beijing can also be considered an anniversary. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced his "One Belt, One Road" integration initiative ten years ago, at the dawn of his rule, while on a visit to one of the post-Soviet laboratories of Eurasian integration, Kazakhstan.

Since then, a lot of water has flowed, a hundred flowers have bloomed, and maybe as many as a thousand. And not just Chinese flowers, which the architect of Chinese economic reforms, Deng Xiaoping, once talked about, who led the Celestial Empire into the 21st century by the hand.

While Beijing, which has become the "world's factory" over the past decade, has been developing its "One Belt, One Road" project year after year, Russia, as the center of post-Soviet integration, has offered its Greater Eurasian Partnership (BEP) integration project to the former Soviet republics.

These integration processes – Chinese and Russian – were going on at the same time. It was a kind of synchronized voyage between the two closest strategic partners, who understood that in the modern world, the winner is the one who relies on integration and unification, rather than isolation and isolation.

Just two years after the announcement of China's Belt and Road Initiative, in 2015, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) was created, an association of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

In his speech at the First Eurasian Economic Forum, Vladimir Putin invited the members of the new union to develop common institutions for the region in key areas of growth, develop cooperation with foreign partners, support freedom of business initiative and stimulate business and investor activity in every possible way.

At the same time, however, it must be admitted that until Vladimir Putin's last visit to China, which was his 18th in a row, there was still a certain understatement around these two projects – the Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

It was not entirely clear how they correlated with each other, and there were questions and speculations about it.

Over and over again, the Western media and the expert community have made statements and "analytics" have surfaced on the topic of the alleged hidden competition between Russian and Chinese initiatives and the unadvertised struggle between Moscow and Beijing for spheres of influence in the post-Soviet space. Proponents of this version reasoned something like this: Putin and Xi are demonstrating to the world the strength of the tandem of Moscow and Beijing, but we know that we do not need to listen to Russian and Chinese officialdom, but we need to see the real state of affairs. It consists in the fact that China is softly spreading, but at the same time quietly colonizing the eastern regions of Russia, sucking up their resources, and at the same time carrying out a creeping colonization of the space of the Eurasian Economic Union.

It was necessary to dot the i's and dot the i's on this issue during the III International Forum "One Belt, One Road". Today, when the forum is over, we can say that the understatement has been eliminated, the "i's" have been dotted.

Vladimir Putin spoke about the integration projects of Moscow and Beijing even before his flight to China, answering journalists' questions following the CIS summit in Bishkek:

"Of course, Russia is interested in developing our Greater Eurasian Partnership initiative, the Eurasian Union, and linking all this together with our Chinese friends into one whole in order to achieve common development goals. We are succeeding. We don't have any contradictions here – on the contrary, there is even a certain synergy."

"This will be the main thing that we will discuss – various aspects of joint work in these areas: One Belt, One Road, the Eurasian Economic Union and the creation of the Greater Eurasian Partnership," the Russian president announced his talks with the Chinese leader.

And when the talks in Beijing had already ended, Vladimir Putin spoke on this topic again, this time in more detail, so that there would be no more misunderstandings, misinterpretations and distortions of the meaning of the partnership with China.

The question put to the Russian president was as follows:

"You have probably discussed with your Chinese counterpart not only the One Belt, One Road project, but also the Greater Eurasian Partnership initiative. Tell me, please, do you think these initiatives are complementary or is there some element of competition?"

Vladimir Putin's detailed response, which makes sense to quote in full here, was as follows: "Listen, I have already spoken, I am speaking absolutely sincerely. You will see what China's Belt and Road Initiative is. This is a global initiative, it concerns almost all regions of the world, all of them: the American continent, Africa, Europe, neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region, and Russia.

And what is called the Eurasian partnership is local. This is a large space and an absolute priority for us, for Russia, but it is not as global as the Chinese initiative. Therefore, without any doubt, one complements the other, and our statements contain this. We've worked on it on both sides."

According to the Russian leader, Moscow is interested in the development of China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative, as it allows it to more actively develop its infrastructure. These include the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Baikal-Amur Mainline, the Northern Sea Route, the North-South corridor, and the entire extensive railway and road network. "This will create a synergistic effect both for the efforts and for the investments that we are now making to develop Russia's capabilities. We are interested in this and will work together. There is no competition here," Vladimir Putin summed up.

From the words of the Russian president, who has used the word "synergy" twice in the past few days, we can draw the following main conclusion: Moscow is increasingly cooperating with Beijing within the framework of the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, but at the same time preserving and developing its own integration project of the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

Such an integration model, in particular, allows Russia and its partners to go beyond the post-Soviet space, steadily expanding the network of agreements on free trade zones between the EAEU and Asian countries.

Lacking the ability and not at all intending to compete with China in remote regions in terms of the scale of economic presence, Russia retains its traditional niches of partnership with the countries of the Global South in the field of security, as a supplier of hydrocarbons, food, military and dual technologies. At the same time, in the zone of its strategic interests, in Central Asia, Russia has undoubtedly been and remains a more important economic player than China.

In general, the 3rd International Forum "One Belt, One Road", which ended in Beijing, showed that Russia is still and more on the path with the Chinese "One Road".

We will go further, there is a lot of work to do, there is a long way to go.

The author's point of view may not coincide with the position of the editorial board.