There was no pressing reason for Xi Jinping to stop off in Moscow for a summit meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. There have already been two recent high-level contacts where critical issues in the Russia-China relationship were discussed. The Chinese leader had already met with Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Astana a month ago, and the Russian head of state had traveled to Beijing in May for the “One Belt, One Road” conclave. And both leaders, of course, were already scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Germany later this week. No, the decision for Xi to travel to Moscow first and for Putin to host him in the Kremlin is meant as a direct and clear message to the United States and to the Trump administration before the President leaves for Europe: we aren’t pleased with the direction of U.S. policy, and we have options.