As Russia’s economy gets hammered by sanctions, China has emerged as the key player with the potential to lessen its partner’s economic pain.
But amid Moscow’s deepening international isolation, there are growing signs that Beijing’s willingness to throw its strategic partner an economic lifeline may only go so far.
Even as Beijing has refused to term Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine an “invasion” and condemned Western-led sanctions, Chinese state-owned financial institutions have been quietly distancing themselves from Russia’s beleaguered economy.
The moves suggest a careful balancing act by Beijing as it seeks to buttress ties with Moscow without openly violating sanctions, which could jeopardise its access to key Western export markets and the US dollar-centric international financial system.
Bank of China’s Singapore operations recently ceased financing deals involving Russian oil and…