The most interesting headline appeared on the Russian news site RIA Novosti today (translated by iTools Google Translate Web web page translator) :
While Russia has significant mineral wealth, according to the underlying article it actually imports lithium—the vital metal in battery and semiconductor manufacturing which is also essential to nuclear power—primarily from Argentina and Chile.
Argentina and Chile have cut off shipments of lithium to Russia
The caveat “if true" definitely deserves maximum emphasis here, but if the facts presented in this article are correct, Russia’s strategic posture is far weaker than many might realize.
Russia is critically dependent on the import of lithium raw materials . Suffice it to say that in 2019, the volume of purchases of this metal amounted to more than 61 tons, of which 41 tons came from supplies from Chile and another 14 tons were added by imports from Argentina. In third place among our suppliers is China with an extremely modest figure of six tons. That is, as it is easy to understand, the demarche of the Latin American countries, which are clearly fulfilling the insistent wishes of their northern neighbor, can not only impede the expansion of the Russian presence in the global nuclear market, but also, in the medium term, call into question the reliability of the operation of nuclear reactors inside Russia itself.
If the assessment is correct, it underscores an economic reality that was understood as far back as Adam Smith and Wealth Of Nations: export of natural resources is a relatively low level of economic development, and a problematic source of national wealth.
For Russia, this would mean that decoupling from the West carries a much higher price tag than might be initially estimated.
IF the article is true….
Interesting. But 61 tons per year is 3 semi loads, surely Russia can buy it on a black market elsewhere for 2x the price
Probably not a show stopper. China will provide via SA.