Putin says Russia is diverting trade to China and India

“We are actively redirecting our trade flows and foreign economic contacts towards reliable international partners, mainly the BRICS countries,” Putin said in his opening video for the participants of the BRICS virtual summit.

The acronym “BRICS” refers to an informal grouping of the five emerging economies.

According to Putin, trade between Russia and the BRICS rose by 38%, reaching $45 billion in the first three months of the year.

“Contacts between Russian business circles and the business community of the BRICS countries have intensified,” Putin said. “For example, negotiations are underway to open Indian retail chains in Russia [and to] increase the share of Chinese cars, equipment and hardware in our market.”

Russia is also ramping up oil exports to China and India, which have bought barrels at a steep discount. China’s crude oil imports from Russia rose to record levels in May, ousting Saudi Arabia as the country’s main supplier.

Putin added that Russia’s messaging system between financial institutions is open to connecting banks from the five countries, and Moscow is finding new ways to transact without depending on currencies such as the dollar or the euro.

“Together with BRICS partners, we are developing reliable alternative mechanisms for international settlements,” Putin said.

In his speech, Putin accused the West of neglecting “the basic principles of [the] market economy”, such as free trade.

“It undermines business interests on a global scale and negatively affects the well-being of people, in fact of all countries,” he said.

The BRICS summit, hosted by Beijing, is Putin’s first international forum with leaders of other major economies since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Sanctions from the West have cut Russia off from much of the global economy and pushed the country into a deep recession. But Moscow continues to monetize its exports, especially as energy prices rise. The International Energy Agency estimates that Russia’s oil export revenues rose to about $20 billion in May.

— Julia Horowitz contributed reporting.

Leave a Comment