Putin says Russia is diverting trade to China and India

“We are actively engaged in reorienting our trade flows and foreign economic contacts to reliable international partners, primarily to the BRICS countries,” Putin said in his introductory video address to the participants of the virtual BRICS summit.

The acronym “BRICS” refers to an informal group of five developing countries.

According to Putin, the trade turnover between Russia and the BRICS countries grew by 38% in the first three months of the year and reached $45 billion.

“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 chain stores 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 are buying up barrels at a deep discount. China’s crude oil imports from Russia soared to record levels in May, displacing Saudi Arabia as the country’s top supplier.

Putin added that Russia’s financial institution messaging system is open to banks from five countries and that Moscow is finding new ways to transact without relying on currencies like the dollar or the euro.

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

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

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

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

Western sanctions cut Russia off from major sectors of the global economy and plunged the country into a deep recession. But Moscow continues to earn on exports, especially against the backdrop of rising energy prices. The International Energy Agency estimates that Russian oil export revenues rose to about $20 billion in May.

— Julia Horowitz shared a story.

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