Trade between Russia and China hit a record high of $190 billion in 2022 up 30% from 2021. Hence, this prompted concern from Western officials, who say the economic boost – and the trade of specific goods – is giving Moscow a helping hand in its war in Ukraine. Beijing has so far refrained from condemning the full-fledged invasion, arguing that its commerce with Moscow is “normal economic cooperation” with no “third party.” It is believed that Chinese firms are playing a crucial role in supplementing Russia’s struggling economy and boosting its military capabilities, including via the trade of goods for use on the battlefield in Ukraine.

A review of Russian customs paperwork submitted as recently as August 2023 indicates that China will continue to supply drones, helmets, vests, and radios, offering a lifeline for President Vladimir Putin’s 18-month battle of attrition and a lucrative outlet for Chinese enterprises.

According to Antonia Hmaidi of the Mercator Institute for China Studies, the enterprises engaging in the trade are typically small exporters.

“Exporters in China who export to Russia will not face penalties for doing so, so long as they do not explicitly violate Western sanctions and do not provoke additional tensions with the West,” said Joseph Webster, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Simultaneously, less well-documented Chinese exports allegedly for civilian use, such as automobiles, construction equipment, and synthetic materials, are giving direct and indirect support to Russia’s war activities.

China’s and Russia’s defense ministries did not answer to CNBC’s request for comment on the trade flows.

This trade is taking place despite Beijing’s assurance that its trade with Moscow is “normal economic cooperation” with no “third party.” Last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi confirmed China’s sustained business cooperation with Russia, ahead of a planned October meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In March 2023, Legittelecom, which provides consulting services on permits for the “import, export, and sale of radio electronics and high-frequency devices,” imported an unknown number of portable radios, or walkie-talkies, from wireless communications company Hong Kong Retekess.

The paperwork did not specify if Legittelecom was the final user of the equipment or to whom the permissions were issued, despite the fact that Chinese-made radios had been seized from Ukraine’s battlefield. CNBC’s request for comment on the transactions was not met with a response from the corporations.

Analysts believe the unusual import patterns indicate opportunism among enterprises on both sides as they seek to capitalize on Moscow’s military needs.

- Published By Team Nation Press News

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