China and 3 EU countries are still helping to finance Putin’s war in Ukraine. A Finnish study explains how
New Delhi: For the first hundred days after Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, China, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy continued to be the biggest importers of fossil fuels of Russia, thus acting as the main financiers of Putin’s war, according to new findings from a leaked think tank.
While Russia has become India’s “second source” of oil since the start of the war in Ukraine, following its handover of $25 a barrel to India and supply chain disruptions since the war, data collected by the Finnish think tank, the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), also shows that India is the eighth largest importer of fossil fuels from Russia, with 3.4 billion euros imports since the start of the war.
Meanwhile, China and Germany rank as Russia’s top fossil fuel importers, with €12.6 billion and €12.1 billion respectively, according to CREA data. Italy and the Netherlands come next, with 7.8 billion euros of imports each, with Turkey not far behind with 6.7 billion. Overall, 61% of Russian fossil fuel exports between February 24 and June 3 went to the European Union, the CREA report adds.
The findings are significant, as Russia has relied heavily on international customers for its natural resources to finance its continued offensive in Ukraine. As Newsweek reported in May, Russia has spent around 350 million euros a day on the war, while its total fossil fuel export revenue over the 100 days is 93 billion euros.
While China’s large imports appear to be in line with positions expressed by President Xi Jinping’s government on Sino-Russian relations and the war in Ukraine, the 61% import figure is particularly damning for the European Union, as it has attempted to completely wean itself off its historical dependence on Russian resources since the start of the war in Ukraine.
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Europe’s energy dependence on Russia
While the Union has agreed to ban 90% of Russian oil imports by the end of 2022, the German news site The Spiegel revealed how far the European Commission (the executive arm of the EU) is falling short of its announced targets so far, with Member of the European Parliament Jens Geier predicting that the EU will at best only reduce , that will halve fuel imports from Russia by the end of the year.
Not only do critical storage facilities in Germany and Italy continue to rely on Russian natural gas company Gazprom to maintain supply, but according to CREA data, European tankers – especially those from Greece – remain the main carriers of Russian oil to its more distant international markets. .
“Severe sanctions against tankers carrying Russian crude would significantly limit the possibilities for this type of rerouting of Russian exports. In April-May, 68% of Russian crude oil deliveries were made by vessels belonging to European, British and Norwegian companies, with Greek tankers alone carrying 43%. For deliveries to India and the Middle East, the share was even higher at 80%. 97% of tankers were insured in just three countries, the UK, Norway and Sweden,” CREA added.
India, however, has always emerged as a major importer of Russian fossil fuels, accounting for 18% of Russian exports, with the Jamnagar refinery being the main beneficiary, as well as the main source of re-export.
“More than half of Jamnagar’s refined oil shipments go outside India. About 20% of exported cargoes left for the Suez Canal, indicating that they were heading for Europe or the United States. We have identified shipments to the United States, France, Italy and the United Kingdom,” CREA said.
India’s role further exposes the long road the EU has to take towards energy independence, or at least, alternatives to Russian fossil fuels.
“For the political independence of Europe, the gas stored in the countries most dependent on Russian gas is much more important than the gas in the countries which can be sufficiently supplied from the West during the winter. European coordination is therefore necessary to ensure that difficulties which are asymmetrical anyway are not exacerbated by the rich Western countries which secure all the gas and make the most dependent countries more vulnerable,” observed a report by Belgian think tank Bruegel. .
(Editing by Poulomi Banerjee)
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