Independent Chinese oil refiners are reportedly snapping up cheap Russian fuel, which could draw the ire of the United States and United Kingdom.
Firms have reportedly continued making deals since the start of the war, while state-run energy companies publicly halted new contracts.
The buying of discounted oil by independent refineries by China, according to the Financial Times, is a bid to get around oil supply problems and rising prices, without attracting criticism for purchasing it off a sanctioned country.
China has so far avoided engaging in sanctions against Moscow due to its war in Ukraine. It has also been suffering economically as it continues to pursue a zero covid policy which has harmed economic prospects.
The FT reports that China’s move may lead to ‘secondary’ sanctions, targeting those propping up the Kremlin.
Britain and America have banned Russian oil imports – with the EU looking to outlaw it more gradually.