China has taken advantage of a loophole in Western sanctions to supply the Russian military with combat gear for use in Ukraine.
By selling so-called “dual-use” technology that can be argued to have both civilian and military use, like drones and ceramics for body armour, Chinese firms have managed to sell in bulk to Russian buyers without technically breaching international sanctions.
Beijing has looked to steer a delicate balance over the war in Ukraine, officially encouraging peace talks while seeming to allow the export of goods needed to clothe and equipment the Russian army.
China-based companies are reported to have sold $100 million worth of drones to Russia so far this year.
This figure is 30 times more than Ukraine.
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Customs data also show that ceramics exports to Russia have increased by 60 per cent to a total of more than $225million (£175m).
Helena Legarda from the Mercator Institute for China Studies told Politico: “What is very clear is that China, for all its claims that it is a neutral actor, is in fact supporting Russia’s positions in this war.”
China has also supplied Ukraine with similar exports but at a greatly reduced scale.
Recently Russia-China relations have taken a hit over Putin’s decision to exit from the Black Sea grain deal.
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Russia came under pressure at the U.N. Security Council on Friday from its ally China and developing countries as well as Western nations to avert a global food crisis and quickly revive Ukrainian grain shipments.
Moscow was criticised by the U.N. and council members for attacking Ukrainian ports after pulling out of the year-old grain deal on Monday and destroying port infrastructure — a violation of international humanitarian law banning attacks on civilian infrastructure.
In response to Russia declaring wide areas in the Black Sea dangerous for shipping, the U.N. warned that a military incident in the sea could have “catastrophic consequences”.
Russia said it suspended the Black Sea Grain Initiative because the U.N. had failed to overcome obstacles to shipping its food and fertilizer to global markets, the other half of the Ukraine grain deal.
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The Kremlin said it would consider resuming Ukrainian shipments if progress is made in overcoming the obstacles, including in banking arrangements.
China’s deputy U.N. ambassador Geng Shuang noted U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ commitment to make every effort to ensure that both Ukrainian grain and Russian food and fertilizer get to world markets.
He expressed hope that Russia and the U.N. will work together to resume exports from both countries “at an early date” in the interest of “maintaining international food security and alleviating the food crisis in developing countries in particular”.
Several developing countries warned of the impact of the cutoff in Ukrainian grain shipments, which has already led to a rise in wheat prices.
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