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China is quietly ramping up purchases of oil from Russia at bargain prices, according to shipping data and oil traders who spoke to Reuters, filling the vacuum left by Western buyers backing away from business with Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in February. The move by the world's biggest oil importer comes a month after it initially cut back on Russian supplies, for fear of appearing to openly support Moscow and potentially expose its state oil giants to sanctions.
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Seizing Russian state assets to help finance the rebuilding of war-torn Ukraine remains a possibility, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Friday, but he added that no decision on the matter was taken at a meeting with his G7 counterparts, Reuters reported. "We talked about the continuation of sanctions in connection with Ukraine and discussed the issue of the confiscation of Russian assets," Lindner said, wrapping up day two of the talks.
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Russia rushed forward two payments on its international debt on Friday in its latest attempt to stave off a default that has looked on cards since its invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported. A week before the interest payments are due and just five days before a key U.S. waiver allowing such transfers expires, Russia's finance ministry said it had wired $71.25 million for a dollar-denominated bond and 26.5 million euros ($28 million) for euro-denominated notes.
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The European Union’s executive arm moved Wednesday to jump-start plans for the 27-nation bloc to abandon Russian energy amid the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, proposing a nearly 300 billion-euro ($315 billion) package that includes more efficient use of fuels and faster rollout of renewable power, the Associated Press reported. The European Commission’s investment initiative is meant to help the 27 EU countries start weaning themselves off Russian fossil fuels this year.
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The Russian economy expanded by 3.5% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022 after growing 5% in the previous quarter, data from federal statistics service Rosstat showed on Wednesday, Reuters reported. The first quarter is expected to have been the last with sound growth before the Russian economy took a hit from sweeping sanctions for Moscow's decision to send tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
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Google’s Russian subsidiary plans to file for bankruptcy, Reuters reported. The U.S. tech firm said Wednesday (May 18) that Russian authorities had seized the unit's bank account. Alphabet’s Google has been under pressure in Russia for months as Moscow wanted it to delete content it viewed as illegal. It was also criticized in the country for restricting access to some Russian media on YouTube. The Kremlin has so far stopped short of blocking access to its platforms. Google said that by seizing its bank account authorities had made it impossible for its Russian office to function.
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Credit Bank of Moscow (MKB), one of Russia's largest private lenders, has obtained a gold export license from the government, it said on Monday, becoming the latest Russian bank to turn to precious metals trade to offset the impact of sanctions, Reuters reported. The main operators of the gold market in Russia and its largest lenders - Sberbank and VTB - have been hit by harsh Western sanctions imposed on Moscow after it sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24. "MKB has a dedicated focus on developing operations with precious metals," MKB said in a statement.
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Shipping traffic in and out of Russia has remained relatively strong in the past few months as companies have raced to fulfill contracts for purchases of energy and other goods before the full force of global sanctions goes into effect, the New York Times reported. With the European Union poised to introduce a ban on Russian oil in the coming months, that situation could change significantly. But so far, data show that while commerce with Russia has been reduced in many cases, it has yet to be crippled.
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Consumer inflation in Russia accelerated in April to 17.83% in year-on-year terms, its highest level since January 2002, data showed on Friday, as it got a boost from the volatile rouble and unprecedented western sanctions that disrupted logistics chains, Reuters reported. But monthly inflation slowed to 1.56% in April from 7.61% in March when it staged the biggest month-on-month increase since January 1999, data from the federal statistics service Rosstat showed. Inflation in Russia has accelerated sharply after Russia began what it calls "a special military operation" in Ukraine on Feb. 24.
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Moscow has imposed sanctions on the owner of the Polish part of the Yamal pipeline that carries Russian gas to Europe, as well as the former German unit of the Russian gas producer Gazprom, whose subsidiaries service Europe's gas consumption, Reuters reported. The entities on a list of affected firms on a Russian government website on Wednesday were largely based in countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, most of them members of the European Union.
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