Despite multiple waves of international sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, the E.U. and U.S. have both increased their imports of Russian industrial metals compared to 2021.
What are the figures?
According to a report by Reuters, E.U. imports of Russian aluminum increased by 13% in the March-June period of this year, while U.S. imports of Russian nickel grew by 70% compared to the same period in 2021. These increases account for $1.98b headed to Russia in exchange for the metals. The news comes as the Russian economy bounces back after being buffeted by sanctions that followed its invasion of Ukraine. The other impact of this is that the Russian ruble stabilized last month, even in the face of broad international sanctions.
Why are they buying from an enemy they’re trying to punish?
Well, there aren’t enough alternatives to Russia’s supply of metals, especially for the U.S. While international sanctions hit a variety of Russian industries, they did not target the industrial metal sector. Russian companies are the biggest exporters of both metals, leaving businesses with few other options. Also, the next largest exporter of aluminum in the world is China – another adversary – and the U.S. is very hesitant to get anything from there.