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In "Victory" For Moscow, Russia Defies Sanctions By Selling Oil Above Western Price Cap

• https://www.zerohedge.com, by Tyler Durden

Fast forward to today when, as the WSJ reported, the price of Russia's most coveted crude finally traded above the western price cap imposed to starve Moscow of funds for the war in Ukraine (but not really, because starving the world of Russian oil has long been viewed as a far more dangerous outcome), resulting in a very distinct "victory" for Moscow in the "fight for influence over global oil markets."

It is the first time that the price for its flagship Urals grade of oil has breached the $60-a-barrel limit since the U.S. and its allies introduced the novel sanctions policy last December, according to commodities-data firm Argus Media, and - as the WSJ clarifies - it is a sign that the Kremlin has succeeded, at least in part, in adjusting to the restrictions.

As a reminder, in late 2022, companies in the Group of Seven advanced democracies were allowed to transport and insure Russian crude only if the price is below $60 a barrel. There are separate caps for refined products. The idea is that Moscow will sell petroleum at lower prices because it needs Western services to export its oil, thus keeping commodity inflation low.

The cap is part of a Western economic-pressure campaign and targets Russia's most important revenue source. It is meant to bleed the Kremlin's war coffers while encouraging Russian producers to keep sending petroleum to market so as not to foment inflation around the world. However, in a world where Russia's 7 million of barrels of daily oil exports are suddenly pulled from the market, inflation would explode as the price of oil would promptly soar, we learn just how toothless western sanctions have been... and were meant to be.

One sign that the financial squeeze on Moscow might be relenting: The discount for Urals, compared with benchmark Brent, has narrowed to $20 a barrel. The gap is still far wider than before the war, but it has halved since January.