Ukraine War: What support is China giving Russia?

China has become an increasingly important trading partner for Russia as it seeks to soften the impact of economic sanctions imposed by some countries in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

The United States now says that Beijing is considering supplying Russia with arms and ammunition, accusations that China strongly denies.

Is China providing weapons to Russia?
China has been expanding its military production capabilities and is now the world’s fourth largest arms exporter.

“China’s weapons are getting more advanced now,” says Siemon Wezeman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

“Their drones, for example, are an area that Russia would be very interested in.”

The United States says Chinese companies have already provided “non-lethal support” to Russia, and that it has new information suggesting that Beijing may soon provide “lethal support.”

Maria Shagina, an expert on economic sanctions at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, says China has not openly supplied Russia with weapons, but may be secretly selling it high-tech products that could be used for military purposes.

“There is evidence that China is the largest exporter of semiconductors, often through shell companies in Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates, to Russia,” he says.

“Some Chinese companies are also supplying civilian drones, exploiting the gray space between military and civilian purposes.”

The US-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies says Chinese companies may be sending electronic parts for anti-aircraft missile radars to Russia.

The United States also imposed sanctions on a Chinese company that Washington says provided satellite imagery in support of Russian mercenary forces fighting in Ukraine.

Russia’s most important trading partner

After Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, Western nations imposed strict sanctions on Russia, banning oil imports and exports of high-tech products.

Many Western companies cut their connections with Russia entirely, and their trade with the US, UK and EU countries plummeted over the course of 2022.

However, China’s overall trade with Russia reached a record level of $190 billion in 2022, an increase of 30% over the previous year.

Russian imports from China rose 13% to $76 billion and its exports to China increased 43% to $114 billion.

As Russia’s trade with Western countries plummeted in 2022, China became by far its most important trading partner.

How much oil and gas is China buying from Russia?

Nearly half of all annual Russian government revenue comes from oil and gas, and its sales to EU countries have plummeted over the past year due to sanctions.

A significant amount of this shortfall has been made up by increased sales to Asia.

Russia exported twice as much liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to China in 2022 than the previous year. It also delivered 50% more natural gas through the Power of Siberia pipeline and 10% more crude oil.

The G7 group of economically developed countries, along with the European Union and Australia, have tried to impose a global cap on the price of Russian seaborne oil, but China has refused to comply and buys Russian crude at market prices.

There are also longer-term plans to expand energy ties.

The two countries have agreed to build a new gas pipeline (Power of Siberia 2). The existing one began operations in 2019, under a 30-year contract worth more than $400 billion.

Leave a Reply