Russia’s recent invasion of Georgia included an (unsuccessful) attack on a pipeline that brings Caspian natural gas to Turkey, and then on to Europe. The line allows the Caspian states to avoid Russia, preventing Russia (a gap state) from holding Europe hostage by threatening to cut off access to Caspian hydrocarbons. Before the completion of that pipeline, Caspian hydrocarbons flowed through Russia as a legacy of the old Soviet system.
Europe isn’t the only large power that’s working to chip away at Russian power by supplementing the Soviet hydrocarbon network. The New Core state of China, working with the Seam State of Kazakhstan, is building China’s first direct hydrocarbon importation pipeline, from the Caspian Sea to Chinese Turkestan (the new route is cleverly named the Kazakhstan-China Pipeline).
The New Core must be allowed to grow and become richer, free from intimidation of the Gap and safe from its noxious exports. In East Asia, that means that China’s growth cannot be held hostage to Russia’s decline. The Kazakhstan-China pipeline is an important part of this.