China and India funnel US$24bil to Putin in energy spree

China spent US$18.9bil (RM83.6bil) on Russian oil, gas and coal in the three months to the end of May, almost double the amount a year earlier, latest customs data show.(File pic shows Russian crude in hand.)

NEW YORK: Russia has pocketed US$24bil (RM106.2bil) from selling energy to China and India in just three months following its invasion of Ukraine, showing how higher global prices are limiting efforts by the United States and Europe to punish President Vladimir Putin.

China spent US$18.9bil (RM83.6bil) on Russian oil, gas and coal in the three months to the end of May, almost double the amount a year earlier, latest customs data show.

Meanwhile, India shelled out US$5.1bil (RM22.6bil) in the same period, more than five times the value of a year ago.

That’s an extra US$13bil (RM5.75bil) in revenue from both countries compared to the same months in 2021.

The higher spending is helping make up for decreased purchases from the United States and some other nations that have halted or slowed buying to punish Russia for the war.

The bans have sent prices for alternative supplies soaring and spurred crippling inflation that threatens to send major economies into recession.

“China is already buying essentially everything that Russia can export via pipelines and Pacific ports,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, who has been tracking Russian energy flows since the war broke out.

“India has been the main buyer of the cargoes out of the Atlantic that Europe doesn’t want anymore.”

That spree is unlikely to end anytime soon, with energy prices much higher than they were at this time last year, even accounting for the steep discounts to global benchmarks Russia is offering to entice purchasers.

On a volume basis, China’s imports continued a slow uptick in June, while India may have incentive to boost purchases even further in the coming months as a European Union ban on Russian oil takes effect, Myllyvirta said.

China and India still trail Europe as a bloc in terms of overall sales this year, according to Myllyvirta’s research.

Europe’s purchases will continue to shrink, though, as import bans on coal and oil come into effect and as Russia cuts off gas supplies to some European buyers.

Russia has long-standing trade and strategic relationships with China and India, and along with offering steep price discounts is also accepting payments in local currency to help keep trade flows to the countries strong this year. — Bloomberg

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