Russian nickel, palladium, chromium exports a headache for Germany – by Arthur Sullivan ( – April 11, 2022)

Russian gas and oil are by far the most significant exports Moscow sells to Germany. Yet other important raw materials are also under the spotlight because of the war in Ukraine.

Almost all the debate surrounding Germany’s economic ties with Russia since the invasion of Ukraine has focused on gas and oil. With good reason — Germany buys more Russian oil and gas than any other European country, making energy Russia’s most lucrative import to Germany by far.

However, many German companies rely on a steady supply of other Russian exports, particularly raw materials such as nickel, palladium, copper and chromium.

Nickel is used in stainless steelmaking but is also an important component for lithium-ion batteries which are needed to power electric cars. Palladium is also vital for carmakers, as it is a critical component in the production of catalytic converters, which clean exhaust fumes in petrol and hybrid vehicles.

In 2020, Russia was Germany’s biggest provider of raw nickel, accounting for 39% of the country’s supply according to the MIT Observatory of Economic Complexity, a trade tracker. It also provided around 25% of German imports of palladium, and between 15% and 20% of the heavy metals chromium and cadmium, which have a range of industrial uses.

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