Russian Goods Keep Flowing to the West


Despite unprecedented sanctions and reduced trade relations between Russia and the West, the latter continues to import a wide range of Russian goods.


The Russian Federal Customs Service (FCS) reports that in 2022, Russian companies increased their supply of goods and services abroad by almost 20%. Although trade geography has shifted towards "friendly" Asian markets, domestic exporters still maintain a presence in unfriendly countries. Notably, exports of goods to the European Union (EU) increased by almost a quarter, reaching 203.4 billion euros. The Netherlands played a significant role in this change, with imports from Russia increasing by 57.6% to 16.6 billion euros from January to August. Russian exports to "unfriendly" Japan also saw a slight increase, reaching $15.38 billion, an 8.8% rise.

The increase in export costs can be largely attributed to rising energy prices. Despite a decrease in the physical volume of Russian gas exports to the EU in 2022 by about 2.6 times (from 157 billion to 61 billion cubic meters), high gas prices enabled Russia to earn 17% more ($56 billion) from its sales to Europe compared to the previous year.

Following the explosions on the Nord Stream-1 and Nord Stream-2 gas pipelines in September 2022, gas supplies to Europe have been redirected through the Ukrainian route and the bottom of the Black Sea, reaching Turkey and neighboring countries. Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Austria, and Italy are the main consumers.

While Russian pipeline gas supplies have declined, Russian LNG exports are on the rise. In the past year, total LNG exports increased by 9% year-on-year to 40 billion cubic meters, with 20 billion cubic meters going to Europe. Belgium, France, and Spain became the primary buyers of Russian LNG.

After the United States, Great Britain, and the EU imposed an embargo on sea supplies of Russian oil, the pipeline became the only legal route for delivering oil to Europe. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Slovakia rely on oil supplies via the Druzhba pipeline. Despite Germany and Poland expressing their willingness to abandon oil imports from Russia, both countries have reserved pumping capacity for 2023. In the first quarter of 2023, a total of 4.85 million tons of oil is planned for supply to EU countries, with Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia receiving 1.3 million tons, Poland receiving 0.99 million tons, and Germany receiving 30,000 tons.

Russia's cooperation with the EU and the United States in the peaceful nuclear energy sector continues. Currently, the Russian Federation holds a 14% share of the global uranium market and approximately a fifth of the European and American markets. According to calculations by the British Institute RUSI, the export of nuclear technologies and fuel is expected to generate over $1 billion for Russia in 2022. In December 2022, foreign partners paid a record amount of $185 million for the supply of enriched uranium, the highest value in the past six years.

Despite logistical difficulties, transportation insurance challenges, and financial transactions, the supply of Russian fertilizers persists. Russia holds a significant share of the global fertilizer market, with approximately 50% of ammonium nitrate, over 20% of ammonia, 14% of urea, and 13% of potash, phosphorus, and nitrogen-containing fertilizers. For the first ten months of 2022, Russia exported 268.2 thousand tons of ammonia to the European Union, bringing in 416.2 million euros. Additionally, Europeans imported 0.7 million tons of potassium and 2 million tons of phosphorus fertilizers.

Source: Profil

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