Sanctions are forcing Russia to cannibalize washing machines, refrigerators, and electric breast pumps for transistors, transformers, and microchips. Bloomberg writes that there has been a boom in European exports to Russia’s neighbors since the invasion of Ukraine began. Alberto Nardelli, Bryce Baschuk, and Mark Champion write (abridged):
A sudden and surprising spike in European exports of washing machines, refrigerators and even electric breast pumps to Russia’s neighbors is raising concerns among officials the trade boom may be helping Vladimir Putin’s war machine in Ukraine.
Armenia imported more washing machines from the European Union during the first eight months of the year than the past two years combined, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from the EU’s Eurostat database. Kazakhstan imported $21.4 million worth of European refrigerators through August, more than triple the amount for the same period last year. […]
The trade data show for example that EU exports of electric breast pumps to Armenia nearly tripled in the first half of 2022 versus the prior year, despite a 4.3% drop in the Armenian birth rate. Likewise, Kazakhstan’s demand for breast pumps from the EU soared 633% in the first half of 2022 even though the national birth rate fell 8.4% during the same period.
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