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China has overtaken Germany as the biggest buyer of Russian energy exports since the start of the war in Ukraine, an independent research group said Monday.

The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air said Russia received about €93-billion (US$97-billion) in revenue for the sale of oil, natural gas and coal since Feb. 24, when it invaded Ukraine.

About 61 per cent of the fossil fuels worth some €57-billion (US$59-billion) was exported to the European Union during the conflict’s first 100 days, the Helsinki-based group said.

That included €12.1-billion (US$12.5-billion) worth of exports to Germany, €7.8-billion (US$8-billion) each to Italy and the Netherlands and €4.4-billion (US$4.5-billion) to Poland, the group said.

Germany, which was the biggest importer of Russian fossil fuels during the first two months of the war, slipped to second place behind China, which has purchased some €12.6-billion (US$13-billion) worth of energy from Moscow.

The shift reflects the growing importance of China and other non-European economies for Russian energy exports, which provide about 40 per cent of the country’s federal budget, the group said.

Figures published by the organization show that Germany remains heavily dependent on Russian energy, particularly natural gas. Imports in May were down 8 per cent compared with the previous two months, coinciding with warmer weather.

As a whole, the European Union cut its energy imports from Russia by more than €100-million (US$104-million) a day in May, led by Poland, which was previously a big buyer of Russian oil and gas, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air calculated.

By contrast, France, Belgium and the Netherlands snapped up more natural gas and oil on the short-term markets in May, the group said.

It noted that because Russia is exporting more oil by ship to countries where it doesn’t have pipelines, tankers are in high demand. Four-fifths of those tankers are owned by European or American companies, it said.

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