Export restrictions and sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine are damaging the Russian economy. Exports to Russia have fallen significantly from sanctioning countries, but also, surprisingly, from nonsanctioning countries, most notably China.
Since the invasion, sanctioning countries' exports to Russia have declined by 60 percent from their average level in the second half of 2021. Nonsanctioning countries' exports to Russia have fallen by 40 percent, hampering Russia's ability to purchase products from abroad.
Chinese exports to Russia have fallen by 38 percent from the second half of last year, despite President Xi Jinping's promise of "no limits" in his country's cooperation with President Vladimir Putin's regime. Chinese exporters, apparently unwilling to risk US retaliation for circumventing sanctions, have curtailed sales to Russia accordingly. As a key trading partner, supplying a quarter of Russian imports in 2021, China's complicity with international sanctions could be contributing to the strangling of Russia's economy.
Russia has experience working around sanctions and disguising its purchases, but it is in a race against time as military stockpiles run out, and equipment breaks down or is destroyed in battle. Whether Russia can get the imported products it needs to sustain the war and its cutting-edge industries remains to be seen. But the US- and European-led coalition appears to have persuaded governments inclined to help Russia that it may be prudent not to try.
This PIIE Chart is based on Martin Chorzempa's blog post, Export controls against Russia are working—with the help of China.