The International Trade Council (ITC) is carefully monitoring the visit of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to China this week, where he is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and participate in a series of infrastructure and trade agreements. This meeting comes amid increasing global concerns over Russia's ongoing aggression in Ukraine.
Mishustin's visit includes participation in the Russian-Chinese Business Forum and a visit to a petrochemical research institute in Shanghai. Significantly, the forum is reportedly hosting several Russian business magnates, who have recently been placed under international sanctions due to Russia's activities in Ukraine.
Russia's exports, particularly in energy, have suffered as a result of widespread sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, China has emerged as Russia's leading energy customer. This shifting dynamic in trade relations raises significant questions about the potential for sanction evasion, which the ITC views with grave concern.
"Mishustin's discussions in China, especially the push for the expansion of Russian agricultural exports, need to be closely watched," says the ITC. "Increased economic cooperation between Russia and China must not inadvertently provide a backdoor for Russia to continue its illegitimate activities in Ukraine."
As a neutral party in the ongoing conflict, China's official position has not explicitly condemned Russia's actions. This has raised eyebrows in the international community, and the ITC urges vigilance in ensuring that trade agreements and economic cooperation are not exploited as means to circumvent sanctions imposed on Russia due to its activities in Ukraine.
During a summit in March, President Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin committed to a "new era" of cooperation, which raises questions about the broader implications for international trade and stability. As Russia's international isolation deepens, China's leverage in this partnership seems to be increasing.
The International Trade Council continues to advocate for responsible trade practices that respect international law and human rights. As such, we strongly condemn any activities that would potentially support or enable Russia's ongoing aggression in Ukraine.
We call on all nations to uphold the integrity of international trade, to respect sanctions placed in response to violations of international law, and to work towards peaceful solutions to the current crisis in Ukraine.