CNN: Kremlin 'Has Never Been Richer'

Chris Menahan
Feb. 19, 2024

The Russian government has "never been richer" thanks in large part to India going around US sanctions and buying record amounts of cheap Russian oil, then refining it and selling it to the US and EU for huge profits, CNN reports.

From CNN, "The Kremlin has never been richer -- thanks to a US strategic partner":
Russia is entering its third year of war in Ukraine with an unprecedented amount of cash in government coffers, bolstered by a record $37 billion of crude oil sales to India last year, according to new analysis, which concludes that some of the crude was refined by India and then exported to the United States as oil products worth more than $1 billion.

This flow of payments, ultimately to Moscow's benefit, comes from India increasing its purchases of Russian crude by over 13 times its pre-war amounts, according to the analysis by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), exclusively shared with CNN. It amounts to US strategic partner New Delhi stepping in to replace crude purchases by Western buyers, reduced by sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the analysis said.
While Russian crude sales to India are not subject to sanctions and are entirely legitimate, an examination of shipping routes by experts suggests this huge volume of shipments might involve the so-called "shadow fleet" of crude tankers, specially created by Moscow to try to disguise who it is trading with and how, and maximize the Kremlin's profits.

CNN witnessed what is a likely part of that complex trade off the Greek port of Gythio earlier this month. Two oil tankers -- one massive, the other smaller -- sidled up next to each other for a ship-to-ship transfer, which involves passing crude oil between vessels, sometimes with the aim of disguising its origin and ultimate destination.

[...] The net impact of India's crude purchases has been to weaken the pinch Russian President Vladimir Putin feels from oil sanctions. Russia's federal revenues ballooned to a record $320 billion in 2023 and are set to rise further still. Roughly a third of the money was spent on the war in Ukraine last year, according to some analysts, and a greater proportion still is set to finance the conflict in 2024.
As I reported previously, the US allowed India to get around these sanctions because India threatened to abandon the US and ally with China and Russia if they were blocked from buying Russia's cheap oil.

As I noted in 2022 when the WSJ first reported on the Indian oil scheme:
While Americans and Europeans are being forced to pay record prices for gas as "the cost of standing up for freedom," the free nation of India is buying oil from Russia for a whopping $35 off a barrel and selling it back to us in a hilarious arbitrage scheme.
The US basically has no leverage whatsoever over India now because we built up their industrial base by outsourcing so much manufacturing.

Despite being an "ally" on paper, India won't even shut down the call scamming centers looting elderly Americans of billion of dollars a year (many Americans are getting over 30 calls from these scammers per day).

Russia and China, who have historically been at odds with one another, are now allies as well thanks to America's Israel-First foreign policy alienating us from the entire globe.

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