Putin anticipates falling European purchases and wants to redirect Russian exports to Asia

While the Europeans have declared since the beginning of the Russian war in Ukraine that they want to reduce their dependence on Russian energy, Vladimir Putin responds by indicating that he is thinking about where to redirect his exports. “We are going to assume that deliveries to the West will drop in the future”said the Russian president. Therefore, you must “redirect our exports to the rapidly growing markets of the South and East”, he explained on Thursday, April 14, during a government meeting dedicated to the energy sector in the context of international sanctions.

“Opportunities, options and alternative opportunities open up to us. As for Russian oil, gas and coal, we will be able to increase their consumption in the internal market (…) and increase the delivery of energy resources to other regions of the world that really need them”, Vladimir Putin had already declared it the day before.

The Russian president considers that European speeches “ destabilize the market and drive up prices. However, you want to be confident: Of course, this creates difficulties for us, but we have the resources and opportunities to quickly find alternative solutions.” he claimed.

For Vladimir Putin, “Attempts by Western countries to kick out Russian suppliers, to replace our energy resources with alternative supplies, will inevitably affect the entire world economy.”ensuring that “The consequences of such a step can become very painful, and first of all for the initiators of such a policy.”

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A not-new “turn to Asia”

Vladimir Putin has not specified which countries he thinks of when he speaks of the South and the East, but China, whose appetite for hydrocarbons continues to grow, borders Russia. However, Beijing has a reputation for being a difficult negotiator, and Russia seeks to see past this neighbor.

For several years, Russia has already started a “Go back to Asia”. “This Russian view is not new,” recently confirmed to La Tribune Jacques Sapir, Director of Studies at EHESS (School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences) and Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“Russia’s energy strategy for 2030, then 2040, was promulgated in 2010. And each version insisted a little more on turning to Asia, to reduce dependence on Russian exports from Europe. There has always been the idea with Vladimir Putin to reduce his dependence on Western countries and the United States, but mainly on European countries.” says Jacques Sapir.

“For Russia, turning to Asia has become essential to its freedom of manoeuvre” (Jacques Sapir)

The United States focuses on the application of sanctions

This call by the Russian president to develop new outlets for Russian fossil fuels comes as the Europeans are considering extending their sanctions against Moscow’s hydrocarbons in reaction to its military intervention in Ukraine. The Russian oil and gas that continue to flow to Europe – its first market – ensure significant revenues for Moscow. The EU, US and Japan have already announced an embargo on Russian coal and the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has indicated that she will propose the goal of independence from the EU towards Russian fossil fuels to 2027.

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In any event, the United States considers that it has taken “Greater sanctions” against Russia and focus on its execution, in particular on the fight against any attempt to “evade”, that is, the risk that Russia evades the measures imposed by the United States, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, at a symposium. “We will have announcements in the next two weeks identifying targets that are trying to enable this escape both in Russia and beyond.” declared.

The national security adviser also assured, regarding the wealth of the Russian oligarchs now frozen because of the sanctions, for example their yachts or their financial assets: “Our goal is not to return them” their owners at the end of the conflict, but “to put them to better use.” And to add: “There are forms that we already have and others that we could perhaps develop, and we are actively considering them.”

Some US parliamentarians have already called for the sale or liquidation of Russian assets affected by the sanctions, to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war.

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(with AFP)