In 2023, Asian nations, predominantly China, emerged as the primary importers of Russian oil, marking a significant shift in Russia's oil export strategy. This change, a key development of the year, was largely successful, as indicated by the reduced discount on Russian oil.

China's oil imports from Russia surged to 88.5 million tons from January to October 2023, a 23% increase from the previous year. Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia as China's top oil supplier. India ranks as the second-largest buyer, importing 69.06 million tons of Russian oil in the first nine months of the year, surpassing Iraq and Saudi Arabia in volume.

Western sanctions, including a December 2022 embargo on Russian tanker oil and a price cap of $60 per barrel, spurred Russia's pivot to Asian markets. Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak had forecasted in April that Russia would redirect 140 million tons of oil and petroleum products from Europe to Asia in 2023, with 80-90 million tons still going west.

Initially, Russia offered substantial discounts on its Asian oil sales, but these discounts narrowed over time. According to Igor Yushkov of the National Energy Security Fund, discounts shrank from around $30 to less than $10 per barrel, signifying Russia's adaptation to the new market dynamics.

The International Energy Agency reported that, by mid-year, China and India accounted for roughly 80% of Russian oil exports. Analyst Alexander Potavin from Finam and Vladimir Chernov from Freedom Finance Global anticipate that these countries, along with Malaysia and Turkey, will constitute about 90% of Russian oil imports in 2024. Chernov also predicts that Turkey and neighboring countries may increase their Russian oil imports for further processing and resale to Europe.

A significant portion of oil is transported to China via pipeline, ensuring supply security. Additionally, Russia is increasingly utilizing the Northern Sea Route (NSR) for oil exports to China, with potential year-round navigation in 2024.

Russian petroleum product exports, also affected by Western restrictions, are finding markets primarily in the South. Turkey, for instance, is a major importer due to favorable logistics and discounted prices. Other Middle Eastern and North African countries are also purchasing Russian petroleum products.

The redirection of gas exports is more challenging, given their reliance on pipelines, with most leading to Europe. Europe's reduced purchases have been partially offset by increased exports to China. The completion of new pipelines, like the Power of Siberia-2, is expected to further enhance gas exports to the East.

Russia aims to increase its global LNG market share from 8% to 20% by 2030, as per Alexander Novak. The Power of Siberia pipeline is set to reach full capacity by 2025, with potential for further expansion through new pipeline projects.

Overall, the shift towards Eastern energy markets reflects long-term strategic adjustments, as European nations pursue decarbonization goals. Russia is thus aligning with Asian markets, which continue to rely on hydrocarbons while exploring carbon neutrality solutions.