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Indirect China-Russia trade is bolstering Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine

Indirect China-Russia trade is bolstering Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine
Trade between China and Russia has risen sharply since the beginning of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, facilitating the Kremlin’s war effort.

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China's trade with Russia has increased significantly since the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine, which is believed to be bolstering Moscow's war aims. While there is no public evidence that Beijing is providing lethal arms to Russian forces, its goods exports are likely facilitating Moscow's invasion. The two countries are also trading via Central Asian countries, which bridge the two authoritarian powers rather than divide them. China's direct exports to Russia have fallen only twice since the invasion, but Chinese imports from Russia have risen consistently throughout the conflict. China's exports to Russia, including of machinery, vehicle-related items, and dual-use technologies, have underpinned the Kremlin's ongoing war effort. Chinese automobile manufacturers have become global exporters, replacing the West in vehicle trade across Russia, Central Asia, and Belarus. Chinese vehicle-related direct and indirect exports to Russia have been instrumental for the war effort, as they have been employed directly on the front lines and serve as logistic enablers. Additionally, China's exports of high-priority goods to Russia have surged, and exports of dual-use goods to Central Asia and Belarus have shown a nearly continuous increase since the war started. In sum, trade between China and Russia has risen sharply since the beginning of Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, facilitating the Kremlin's war effort. Analysts must consider the totality of their interactions, including indirect linkages via Central Asia.

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