The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Alibaba’s experience shows Russia’s pivot east is far from straightforward. Under President Vladimir Putin, Moscow wants deeper economic ties with China, so it can deal less with an unfriendly West. But Russia’s poor business climate makes life hard for Chinese companies, although they are used to draconian rules at home. Even e-commerce giant Alibaba has only made modest inroads.