Experts say China will help Russia weather the storm of sanctions against Ukraine

China throws Putin another lifeline to circumvent sanctions: Xi Jinping lifts restrictions on wheat imports

China has given Russia’s Vladimir Putin another lifeline to circumvent sanctions by lifting restrictions on wheat imports as an economic stimulus for Moscow.

President Xi Jinping has advocated for China to be fully open to wheat imports from Russia, despite wide-ranging sanctions imposed by the West in an attempt to stop Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Imports have been limited in recent months due to concerns about Russia’s measures to prevent plant diseases, especially crops.

The decision to keep the market open was reportedly part of a deal between Moscow and Beijing struck earlier this month and is the latest sign of strengthening ties between the two states.

Russia, the world’s largest exporter of wheat, exported more than 30 million tons of the product from January to November last year.

In the same year, Moscow sent 9.8% of all agricultural exports to China, including grains, fish products, meat and dairy products.

This comes after experts predicted yesterday that China could buy more Russian energy and lend money to Moscow to help Putin weather sanctions imposed over his invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Putin’s decision to take military action against Ukraine will lead the US, UK and other NATO allies to take further punitive action against Russia.

China has given Russia's Vladimir Putin another lifeline to circumvent sanctions by lifting restrictions on wheat imports as an economic stimulus for Moscow.

China has given Russia’s Vladimir Putin another lifeline to circumvent sanctions by lifting restrictions on wheat imports as an economic stimulus for Moscow.

President Xi Jinping has supported keeping China fully open to wheat imports from Russia despite wide-ranging sanctions imposed by the West in an attempt to stop Putin's war in Ukraine.

President Xi Jinping has supported keeping China fully open to wheat imports from Russia despite wide-ranging sanctions imposed by the West in an attempt to stop Putin’s war in Ukraine.

The Chinese General Administration of Customs said in a statement that Russia has also agreed to take new measures to address phytosanitary issues.

Initially, China launched a large-scale shipment of important wheat with the first order of about 667 metric tons in October.

Experts said yesterday that they believe China is likely to help Russia “behind the scenes” and the level of support from Beijing could potentially become “an influential factor in shaping the developing crisis.”

However, China will have to “walk a fine line” as it tries not to damage its ties with the West, with trade protection likely to be a key priority.

China and Russia have grown closer in recent years as both sides face growing tensions with the West.

Putin visited Beijing in early February in connection with the start of the Winter Olympics.

He and President Xi Jinping issued a statement saying that “the friendship between the two states has no boundaries.”

China has backed Russia in opposing NATO expansion as the two countries have accused the US, UK and others of adopting “ideologized Cold War approaches” to international relations.

In the statement, the couple pledged to strengthen foreign policy coordination and protect common interests.

However, China has not publicly supported Russia in the Ukraine crisis, instead urging “all sides” to “show restraint.”

Beijing said that the situation in Ukraine is “the result of many complex factors” and “China always takes its position in accordance with the essence of the issue itself.”

After the invasion of Ukraine, China is unlikely to publicly support Putin’s actions, but it is also unlikely to criticize the Russian president.

Experts believe that China will help Russia when the sanctions imposed by the West take effect.

This could mean that Chinese banks are lending money to Moscow and Beijing is buying more Russian oil and gas.

Tom Rafferty, an analyst with the Beijing-based Economist Intelligence Unit, told the Financial Times: “The level of Chinese support for Russia’s actions could be a powerful factor in shaping the evolving crisis.”

The decision to keep the wheat market open was reportedly part of a deal between Moscow and Beijing struck earlier this month and is the latest sign of strengthening ties between the two states.

The decision to keep the wheat market open was reportedly part of a deal between Moscow and Beijing struck earlier this month and is the latest sign of strengthening ties between the two states.

Jakub Jakobowski, a senior fellow in the China program at the Center for Oriental Studies in Warsaw, told the newspaper: “Unless the West demands really tangible costs from China, China will still help Russia behind the scenes.”

However, many believe that China will want to avoid hurting its Western economic interests, and this is likely to limit its support for Moscow.

Noah Barkin, an expert on Europe-China relations at US research firm Rhodium Group, told Bloomberg that Beijing “will have to walk a fine line in this crisis.”

He said: “They will want to avoid open criticism of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, while reaffirming their support for the principles of territorial integrity and non-intervention. The hotter the conflict in Ukraine is, the more difficult it will be for Beijing to follow this line.”

Meanwhile, Professor Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute of the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas), told i newspaper that China “does not want a war over Ukraine because it has strong economic and other ties with Ukraine.”

Rising tensions with the West are expected to hasten Russia’s ongoing pivot to the East when it comes to selling its oil and gas.

Russian energy companies agreed on new long-term deals with China in early February.

Gazprom has signed a second long-term gas agreement with China, according to which the company will supply 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year for 25 years through a new pipeline.

Russian gas deliveries to China are reportedly set to reach 48 bcm a year, but talks are underway to develop a third route that will add another 50 bcm.

Oil company Rosneft has agreed to supply 100 million tons of crude oil to China over ten years, replacing an existing deal that is expiring.

China’s demand for Russian energy is expected to rise sharply in the coming years, while demand in Europe is likely to fall.

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