Just a month after beginning his new term in office, Russian President Vladimir Putin is heading to China for a state visit, underscoring how mounting US pressure is drawing the two countries increasingly close.
Russia and China have responded to the US national security strategy, describing them as America's top adversaries, by vowing to further expand their economic, political and military cooperation.
They have also sought to strengthen the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a regional grouping they created.
Beijing and Moscow's rapprochement is driven by a strong personal relationship between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two have met 25 times - five times last year alone.
Underlining his close personal relationship with Xi, Putin told a Chinese state broadcaster the Chinese president is the only world leader whom he once invited to celebrate his birthday.
"I'll be frank with you, I hope he won't be angry at me: we had a shot of vodka and had some sausages at the end of a workday," Putin said.
He praised Xi as a "comfortable partner, a good and reliable friend."
The two leaders rely on tight security controls to block challenges to their rule, and both tightened their grip on power this year -- Xi by engineering a move to stay in power indefinitely and Putin, Russia's longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin, by winning another six-year term.
Putin has been driven closer to China by a sharp decline in relations with the West after Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
Moscow is increasingly looking to Beijing for trade and investment following waves of Western sanctions targeting its vital energy sector and military industries and limiting the country's access to global financial markets.
Russia's hopes for better ties with the US under President Donald Trump have withered, while frictions between China and Washington have sharpened over a potential trade war and American criticism of Beijing's claims to territory in the strategically vital South China Sea.
"Put simply, everything the US has done in an attempt to sanction Russia and curb China will make China and Russia step up cooperation in all fields," said Li Xin, director of the Shanghai Institute for Foreign Studies' Centre for Russian and Central Asian Studies.
However, while political and security cooperation has blossomed, economic ties have lagged.
China is Russia's top trading partner, while Russia ranks 10th on Beijing's list.
Bilateral trade sank from nearly $US100 billion in 2014 to $US60 billion the following year due to a sharp depreciation of the Russian currency, but has since recovered to $US90 billion as the ruble has strengthened.
Australian Associated Press