In 2023, Russia’s exports to Europe dropped significantly as a result of the EU’s efforts to put economic pressure on Moscow due to its military offensive against Ukraine. The decline in exports reached 68%, amounting to $84.9 billion. Meanwhile, exports to Asia, which had become Russia’s primary energy customer, increased by 5.6% to $306.6 billion.
The impact of Western sanctions forced Moscow to cease publishing various economic statistics, including trade data with individual countries. However, separate Chinese customs data indicated that two-way trade between Russia and China reached a record $240 billion in 2023, reflecting the growing economic, trade, and political ties between the two nations. Additionally, the Russian Central Bank reported that Chinese yuan deposits in Russian bank accounts surpassed US dollars for the first time in 2023 as the Russian financial system embraced the Chinese currency to overcome sanctions preventing access to the dollar.
Despite these challenges, Russia’s overall trade surplus in 2023 was still $140 billion, marking a decline of only 58.5% compared to the exceptional energy revenues achieved in 2022 when an offensive on Ukraine caused a surge in oil and gas prices and Europe continued purchasing Russian energy for a significant portion of the year.