Fossil fuel imports from Russia to South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan in the first five months of the invasion of Ukraine

This briefing assesses fossil fuel imports from Russia to three East Asian democracies, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, that have expressed support for Ukraine in its struggle for independence and survival. Fossil fuels are a key enabler of Russia’s military buildup and aggression, and phasing out imports of fossil fuels from Russia is one of the most important steps that countries can take.

Key findings include:

  • In the first five months of the invasion of Ukraine (from the 24th of February until the end of July), the three East Asian economies imported an estimated EUR 5.1 billion (USD 5.5 billion) of fossil fuels from Russia. 
  • Out of the three countries, Japan spends the most on Russian fossil fuels: more than two times as much as Taiwan and 50% more than South Korea. Most of the imports in Japan are gas imports, while South Korea spends noticeably the most on oil out of the three. Japan also spends the most on coal. 
  • These imports contributed an estimated USD 1 billion into the state budget of the Russian Federation under the form of mineral extraction taxes and export duties.
  • In addition to its imports, South Korea re–exported EUR 1.7 billion (USD 1.9 billion) worth of oil-related products to China.
  • There are several Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese companies that have continued purchasing Russian fossil fuels. 
  • Since the beginning of the invasion, Japan has been the third largest importer of Russian coal after China and India. Taiwan has been the fifth-largest importer and South Korea the seventh. For LNG, all three countries are among the top eight biggest importers — Japan importing considerably more than the other two. 
  • Taiwan has some of the largest  coal importing ports in the world. Japan, on the other hand, has some of the largest gas importing ports. 

Lauri Myllyvirta, Hubert Thieriot, Ronja Borgmästars, Vera Tattari, Andrei Ilas