The west continues to roll out sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine. There are restrictions on the paths its airlines can fly, the banking systems it can use, and even the soccer tournaments its teams can play in. The restrictions have decimated the value of Russia’s currency—which should make Russian products cheaper in the global marketplace. But the sanctions will also make it harder to pay for and deliver those items.
Russia’s biggest exports
Russia’s largest exports by far are fuels and oil. But the next largest is somewhat of a mystery: unspecified commodities—more on that later. The only other stand-out exports are gems, precious metals, iron, and steel.
Russia’s second tier of exports include wood, fertilizers, aluminum, machinery, and cereals.
Russia’s fuel, oil, and gas exports
Within this category, Russia mostly exports petroleum oils, oils obtained from bituminous minerals, and crude. Top buyers are China and the Netherlands.
Russia’s exports of gems, gold, platinum, and palladium
The UK overwhelmingly buys more precious stones and metals from Russia than any other country. The majority of these exports are gold and platinum including palladium.
The biggest buyer of Russian iron and steel is Turkey
Turkey is Russia’s top buyer of iron and steel. Taiwan imports 40% of its semi-finished products of iron and non-alloy steel from Russia, though those imports have been declining since September 2021. Belarus and Kazakhstan have been increasing their imports through 2021.
China is the top buyer of Russia’s wood exports
China buys more wood from Russia than any other country. These products make up 37% of China’s wood imports.
Russian fertilizers are popular in Brazil
Brazil imports more fertilizers from Russia than any other country and the relationship continues to rapidly grow. The fertilizers are both mineral and chemical. They account for 69% of Brazil’s fertilizer imports.
Russia’s aluminum exports
Aluminum exports from Russia jumped in July 2021 after Russian authorities lifted export tariffs. Prices in London spiked after the Russian invasion of Ukraine brought fears of a global shortage.
Russia’s exports of nuclear and other machinery
Russian goods account for 26.7% of the world’s exports in nuclear reactors and their parts. The products are Russia’s second biggest machinery export following turbojets, gas turbines, and their parts. China’s machinery imports from Russia are largely nuclear reactors and parts, about 13% of China’s imports in the category.
Russia’s exports of cereals, grains, and wheat
Food products such as wheat and barley make up most of Russia’s exports in cereals. Russia accounts for almost 30% of the world’s exports in those grains. Turkey and Egypt are the biggest buyers.
Lebanon has reduced its reliance on Russian grain, but replaced it with Ukraine product.
A big part of Russia’s trade is obscured
Much of what Russia exports is unknown from its statistics. Its second largest trade category is listed under “commodities not elsewhere specified.” That’s products the country either wants to hide to protect certain trade information, or the country’s reported data are incomplete. Germany is the top importer of Russia’s mystery products, followed by Italy and Turkey.