Saturday, May 29, 2021

Russia Now Critically Dependent on Imports of Strategic Metals including from Ukraine, Audit Chamber Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 27 – Russia relies on imports for more than a third of strategically important minerals, including from Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and has no effective plan to develop alternatives, the Audit Chamber says. As a result, the Russian economy is falling ever further behind the economies of the advanced countries of the West.

            At present, the auditors say, Russia relies on imports for 100 percent of the titanium, chrome, manganese and lithium it uses and more than 87 percent of the zirconium (, discussed at

            The importance of these imports is reflected in how they are used, the Audit Chamber says. Titanium is used mostly in civil and military aviation and chrome for building submarines and rocket motors. Lithium is used in nuclear energy, and manganese for a variety of specialty steels.

            In addition to these materials on which Russia is almost completely dependent on foreign countries, it also imports “almost 50 percent” of the copper it needs, two-thirds of the bauxite, 100 percent of iodine, and significant portions of other natural resources it either doesn’t have or hasn’t developed.

            The key suppliers are Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Chili, China, Mongolia and the South African Republic. Ukraine, for example, in 2018-2020, supplied 82.9 percent of the titanium Russia imported, 51.2 percent of the zirconium, and 73.2 percent of the copper Moscow purchased from abroad.

            According to the Accounting Chamber, “the government de facto lacks any plan for import substitution of such deficit materials in this area. More than that, one can see a lag [in Russia] behind the world level for the development and use of technologies of enrichment and processing such raw materials.”

            As a result, “the centers of competence which were left to the country from the USSR have been lost, and the production of rare earth minerals has either been reduced or completely shut down.” That is already casting a dark shadow on many branches of the Russian economy and will harm it even more in the future, the Accounting Chamber says.

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