Russian imports have plunged on the back of the Ukraine War — but revenue from its oil and gas exports has more than made up for it

  • Russia's current account surplus hit $58.2 billion in the first quarter of 2022 — a three-decade high.

  • Russia's revenues oil and gas export surged while imports plunged on the back of sweeping sanctions.

  • Russia will earn $321 million from energy exports in 2022 — 36% higher on-year, per Bloomberg Economics.

Russia has reported its largest current account surplus in around three decades, as revenue from the country's oil and gas exports surged, Bloomberg records show. The surge in oil and gas exports came as imports plunged on the back of sweeping sanctions over the Ukraine war.

Russia's current account surplus hit $58.2 billion in the first quarter of this year, the country's central bank announced on Monday. This was more than double the $22.5 billion it recorded in the same period last year. Current account surplus is a key gauge of trade and investment flows, and trade is a big component of the measure.

Russia is an energy powerhouse, so even amid sanctions and boycotts, the country will still reap nearly $321 million from its energy exports in 2022 — 36% more than in 2021, Bloomberg Economics forecast in April. That's as oil prices have soared to 14-year highs this year amid fears of trade disruptions due to infrastructure damage and sanctions against Russia.

The Europe Union (EU) — a major customer of Russian energy — has not cut the country off completely. Last week, the trade bloc approved a ban on Russian coal. It's also considering an oil embargo, but the EU has not mentioned cutting off natural gas as Europe remains highly reliant on piped gas from the country.

The EU has already paid $38 billion for Russian energy since the country invaded Ukraine, a top EU official said Wednesday. That has helped contribute to Russia's foreign-exchange reserves, which rose marginally for the week that ended April 1, the Russian central bank announced Thursday.

The windfall from high oil and gas prices has also helped the Kremlin bolster its emergency government reserves with 273.4 billion rubles ($3.2 billion) from its oil and gas sales.

Despite sweeping Western sanctions, Russia's coffers appear to be holding up. The country was repaying its foreign debt on time until last Monday, when the US Treasury blocked the country's payment in dollars held with US banks. Russia then transferred the money in rubles. The currency has bounced back to prewar levels thanks to Russia's strict capital controls.

The Russian economy is still expected to contract 11.2% in 2022, the World Bank said in a report released Sunday. And the country's oil and gas revenue in March was 38% lower than Russia's finance ministry had forecast on March 3, according to data from the ministry, published last Tuesday.

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