Sanctioned Russia Becomes China’s Biggest Oil Supplier

Sanctioned Russia Becomes China’s Biggest Oil Supplier

Sanctioned Russia Becomes China’s Biggest Oil Supplier

China increased crude oil imports from Russia in May, according to customs data released Monday, helping to offset Russia’s losses as a result of western sanctions.

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Due to sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, support of Russian energy has dwindled.

However, due to the recent increase, Russia has now surpassed Saudi Arabia as China’s top oil supplier, despite the West’s continued sanctions on Moscow’s energy exports.

Last month, China received 8.42 million tonnes of oil from Russia, a 55 percent increase year on year, as Beijing continues to fail to openly condemn Moscow’s war while reaping economic rewards from its isolated neighbor.

China imported 7.82 million tonnes of oil from Saudi Arabia in May.

Sanctioned Russia Becomes China’s Biggest Oil Supplier

In total, China bought $7.47 billion worth of Russian energy products last month, about $1 billion more than in April, according to Bloomberg News.

The new customs data comes four months into the war in Ukraine, with buyers from the US and Europe shunning Russian energy imports or pledging to slash them over the coming months.

But while European powers were scaling back and Russia’s energy exports were falling, Asian demand was helping to staunch some of those losses, especially in China and India.

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According to the International Energy Agency’s latest global oil report, India has overtaken Germany as the second-largest importer of Russian crude in the last two months.

China had been Russia’s biggest market for crude oil since 2016.

Days before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s President Xi Jinping greeted his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Beijing, with the two countries declaring a bilateral relationship of “no limits.”

Although demand in China remained muted, there had been some improvement in the past month as cities began to loosen virus restrictions after the country’s worst COVID-19 outbreak since the early days of the pandemic.

Sanctioned Russia Becomes China’s Biggest Oil Supplier

This had allowed some supply chain problems to ease, and industrial production to pick up, official data showed.

China’s overall imports from Russia spiked 80 percent from a year ago in May to $10.3 billion, customs data added.

Apart from oil, Beijing’s purchases of liquefied natural gas from Russia also surged 54 percent on year in May to 397,000 tonnes, even as overall imports of the fuel fell.

Beijing, which had repeatedly refused to condemn Moscow’s bloody invasion of Ukraine, had also been accused of providing a diplomatic shield for Russia by blasting western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv.

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Once bitter Cold War enemies, Beijing and Moscow had stepped up cooperation in recent years as a counterbalance to what they saw as the United States’ global dominance.

– Joint goals –

Earlier this month they unveiled the first road bridge linking the two countries, connecting the far eastern Russian city of Blagoveshchensk with the northern Chinese city of Heihe.

Last week, President Xi Jinping assured President Vladimir Putin of China’s support for Russian “sovereignty and security” on a call between the two leaders.

Sanctioned Russia Becomes China’s Biggest Oil Supplier

The Kremlin said the pair had agreed to ramp up economic cooperation in the face of “unlawful” western sanctions.

The West had adopted unprecedented sanctions against Russia in retaliation for its war in Ukraine, and Moscow was looking for new markets and suppliers to replace the major foreign firms that left Russia following the invasion.

The 27-nation European Union agreed in late May to a package of sanctions that would halt the majority of Russian oil imports.

While the US had already banned Russian oil, European nations were much more dependent on those imports.

Energy is a major source of income for Putin’s government, and western nations are trying to isolate Moscow and impede Moscow’s ability to continue the war.

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