Two recent reports have uncovered billions in trade between members of the North Atlantic alliance and Russia since the Kremlin ordered the invasion of Ukraine last year.
Corisk, a Norwegian risk-management firm, issued a report in May detailing billions in trade between Russia and Western states that transited through a third nation. “This report presents total estimates of Western circumventions of sanctions against Russia.” The report states, “Through a combination of top-down and bottom-up methodological approaches, we estimate the indirect trade of 16 Western countries with Russia at 8 billion Euros of indirect exports via third countries, and the indirect imports at 6 billion Euros via third countries in 2022.”
Corisk believes third-party counties are used to circumvent sanctions on Moscow. “This means that the indirect exports, largely likely to be circumventing sanctions, represented almost one-fifth of all Western exports ending up in Russia.” It continued, “The main Western countries behind most indirect exports to Russia in 2022 were Germany (2.05 billion Euros), Lithuania (1.45 billion), the United States (980 million), Poland (725 million), Japan (575 million), Czech Republic (490 million), France (400 million), and the Netherlands (290 million).”
A second study conducted by the Atlantic Council accuses Turkey of acting as a “critical” economic lifeline for Russia. “Although Turkish exports of electronic machinery, including critical integrated circuits, fell in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s full-scale invasion, they have since recovered and grown well beyond the pre-invasion average,” the report stated. “From March 2022 to March 2023, Turkish electronic exports to Russia jumped by about 85%.”
It added, Turkey’s “trade with Russia remains a vital economic lifeline for its businesses as the country recovers and reconstructs from a devastating earthquake earlier this year.”
After Russia invaded Ukraine last year, President Joe Biden pledged to “cripple” Moscow’s economy with a sanctions package the White House compared to an “economic nuclear weapon.”
Part of the reason the economic war failed to harm Moscow’s ability to wage war in Ukraine is that the global community has largely refused to comply with the Western sanctions. The participants in the economic war are limited to Washington and its close allies.
The Atlantic Council – a group funded by the US and UK governments – acknowledged that refusal to enforce sanctions is not condoning the war in Ukraine. “Such surges in trade, however, are not necessarily an indicator of support” for the war, the report says. “Instead, it is more likely they are predominantly the result of companies – and countries – pursuing legal opportunities for cheaper exports and new gaps in the Russian market.”