But in the short term, the United States and its Western allies had been counting on economic sanctions, not criminal prosecutions, to persuade Moscow to back down, or at least degrade its ability to sustain the war. For now, at least, that tactic appears to have boomeranged, given surging demand in Asia for oil from Russia, the world’s third-largest producer of oil after the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Better Understand the Russia-Ukraine War
In May, China’s imports of Russian oil rose 28 percent from the previous month, hitting a record high and helping Russia overtake Saudi Arabia as China’s largest supplier, according to Chinese statistics. India, which once purchased little Russian oil, is now bringing in more than 760,000 barrels a day, according to shipping data analyzed by Kpler, a market research firm.
“Asia has saved Russian crude production,” said Viktor Katona, an analyst at Kpler. “Russia, instead of falling further, is almost close to its prepandemic levels.”