Russia's Putin holds talks with China's Xi in Moscow


  • CIA Director Burns said Russia is dependent on China for the export of energy resources
  • Burns warned against being intimidated by Putin's threats of nuclear war
  • Beijing ramped up efforts to supply Russia with computer chips and raw materials amid sanctions

Russia could become an "economic colony of China" as it becomes more dependent on Beijing after launching its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the CIA director said.

Since the war in Ukraine began, Russia has received a number of crippling economic sanctions from the West and the European Union for invading Kyiv. The sanctions led Moscow to become globally isolated as its piped gas imports to the EU halted. However, China refused to impose sanctions and instead continued purchasing cheaper Russian oil and trading excess supplies.

Speaking at the Baker Institute on Tuesday, CIA Director Bill Burns said the energy partnership between the two countries could lead Russia to become an "economic colony of China."

"If you look at the reality, Russia is becoming more and more dependent on China and, in some respects, runs the risk of becoming an economic colony of China over time—dependent for the export of energy resources and raw materials," he said.

China has remained officially unaligned in the war—both refusing to condemn or side with Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine. However, Beijing has ramped up efforts to supply Russia with large volumes of raw materials, smartphones and computer chips that its citizens and armed forces could use in the face of Western sanctions, per The New York Times.

China's crude imports from Russia also rose by 8% in 2022 to at least 86.25 million tons. China's coal imports also increased significantly last year, surging by 20% from 2021 to 68.06 million tonnes, per Reuters, citing data from Chinese customs.

In addition to his remarks on China and Russia's increasing partnership, Burns also warned against taking Russian President Vladimir Putin's threats of nuclear war too lightly.

"Our assessment is that Putin is not serious about negotiations at this stage," he said. "A great deal is at stake in the coming months that will come with inevitable escalatory risks and more nuclear saber-rattling. We cannot afford to take that lightly."

Despite his warning, Burns said it is important not to be intimidated by Putin's threats of nuclear war, especially as Russia continues to face problems in the war amid heavy losses among its military troops.

As of Wednesday, a total of 180,050 Russian soldiers have died in combat, according to estimates from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

China is playing an increasingly prominent role on the sidelines of Russia's war in Ukraine as the conflict drags on into its second year