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A Chinese Company Bought Copper From The Region Of Ukraine Under Russian Control

A Chinese Company Bought Copper From The Region Of Ukraine Under Russian Control
According to Russian customs records examined by Reuters, a Chinese company purchased copper alloy ingots worth at least $7.4 million from a factory in a Ukrainian area that Russia has seized and which is subject to Western sanctions.
China has not imposed any trade restrictions on Russia, but the United States has threatened to place businesses on a global blacklist for breaking its sanctions and has cautioned Beijing not to send Moscow any commodities that are prohibited by U.S. export laws.
Since the start of the war on February 24, 2022, the customs data—which were taken from one commercial trade data supplier and cross-checked with two others—show some of the earliest evidence of Chinese trade with the Ukrainian regions that Russia has annexed.
The statistics show that between October 8, 2022, and March 24, 2023, the Chinese company Quzhou Nova purchased at least 3,220 tons of copper alloy in ingots for a total of $7.4 million from the Debaltsevsky Plant of Metallurgical Engineering.
The facility is situated in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk area, not far from the Luhansk border. Donetsk and Luhansk were two of the four Ukrainian territories Vladimir Putin declared to be a part of Russia in September of last year.
According to Quzhou Nova, a trading and manufacturing company situated in the eastern province of Zhejiang's Quzhou, it does not engage in any import or export activity involving the sale of copper alloy ingots.
Quzhou Nova stated on March 23 that it "finds hard to understand the document, because this document is not stamped and signed," and advised contacting customs regarding the situation after Reuters revealed details of the exports in the customs data to Quzhou Nova. The database, which compiles data on all international shipments, does not show stamps or signatures on the data it contains.
The Chinese customs department does not offer comprehensive import data. It stated that "company trade data are not disclosed in our public information".
During the months of October through February, China purchased copper and copper alloys from Russia valued $852 million.
On the premises of the firm, according to a source at the Debaltsevsky plant who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was a non-ferrous metallurgy workshop. The source cited the information as a "trade secret" and declined to comment on the matter of copper alloy exports to China.
After being contacted for comment, the Russian Federal Customs Service informed Reuters that it does not provide company information because it is private and confidential.
The Kremlin said on Friday that it had no knowledge of the veracity of the Reuters news report regarding the transaction or the existence of any supporting documentation. The Kremlin claimed to have no knowledge of the actual matter.
Reuters' phone and written requests for comments from the Debaltsevsky Plant were not answered.
The annexation of the four territories by Russia has been denounced as illegitimate by the Ukrainian government, its friends in the West, and the vast majority of nations present at the U.N. General Assembly.
Three days before Russia invaded Ukraine, on February 21, 2022, the United States implemented sanctions that forbade imports into or exports to the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics.
The European Union announced actions two days later, including a ban on the importation of products from the two regions.
Chinese enterprises run the risk of being added to Western blacklists even though they are permitted by their government to conduct business with companies in Ukraine's Russian-controlled regions.
The U.S. State Department stated that it was concerned about China's affiliation with the Kremlin when questioned about the copper shipments data.
"We have warned the PRC (People's Republic of China) that assistance to Russia’s war effort would have serious consequences. We will not hesitate to move against entities, including PRC firms, that help Russia wage war against Ukraine or help Russia circumvent sanctions," it added in a statement to Reuters, listing some Chinese companies already sanctioned.
Reuters questioned the European Commission on whether Chinese businesses worked with the Ukrainian territories that Russia had invaded and the dangers such activity created.
Requests for comment from Reuters regarding the shipments of copper alloys from the Debaltsevsky Plant or collaboration with companies in the Donetsk region were not answered by China's Ministry of Commerce.
The information obtained by Reuters is based on customs and shipping paperwork, such as bill of ladings and shipping bills, and was gathered from a number of customs offices, government agencies, and other partners.
According to Quzhou Nova, it exports wrapping paper as a specialty. It makes and sells products for the tobacco business, including paper, aluminum foil, and polypropylene film, according to its website.
Reuters was unable to determine the copper alloy's intended use.
According to its website, the Ukrainian facility, which is situated in the Ukrainian city of Debaltseve 70 kilometers (45 miles) from the city of Donetsk, which is under Russian control, specializes in producing machinery and spare parts for ferrous metallurgy, the mining sector, and cement plants. It also has workshops for steelmaking and metal casting.
Reuters was unable to locate any information regarding the company's financial situation. It has not yet reported financial information despite being enrolled to the Russian official tax registry in December 2022.
The legal standing of the plant in Debaltseve has reportedly been halted by the Ukrainian government, according to a register. The record has no information about when or why this occurred.
Early in 2023, the Ukrainian Donetsk regional state government was its sole owner.
The Donetsk People's Republic administration, which was installed by Russia, as well as the Ukrainian government did not immediately respond to a request for information from Reuters regarding trade with Chinese firms and exports to China.
According to the customs information, the shipments of copper alloy from the plant were made via the port of Novorossiysk in southern Russia.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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