Western sanctions imposed on Russia for invading Ukraine, which triggered a dive in the value of the rouble, are reverberating across China’s online cross-border merchant community, according to a local trade group. “The Russia and Ukraine markets have basically come to a standstill,” said Wang Xin, executive chairwoman of the Shenzhen Cross-Border E-Commerce Association. The abrupt halt in business for Shenzhen merchants came as major Russian banks were sanctioned by the US and European Union, while logistics operations have also been disrupted after many Western shipping and delivery firms suspended services to Russia. Russia isolated as FTSE Russell, MSCI eject bonds, stocks from indices However, Wang said the overall impact on online cross-border trade was not significant as Russia and Ukraine accounted for a “relatively small share” of the total. Among the platforms, Wang said AliExpress, the global marketplace operated by Alibaba Group Holding, was one of the hardest hit because Russia is a big market for merchants on the platform. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post . AliExpress did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Russia topped AliExpress Singles’ Day sales in 2019, while Ukraine was among the top five that year, according to figures released by the company at the time. The impact of the war on Chinese trade is set to go beyond just Russia and Ukraine, according to some local merchants. Ryan Li, chief executive of a Shenzhen-based home appliance company, had seen booming sales in Europe until his business hit a speed bump last week. Li, who runs an online store on AliExpress focusing on Europe and Latin America, said Russian sales were largely halted after the announcement of sanctions. But Li said Russia would remain an important market over the long term. “We need to take a longer perspective and keep an eye on the situation. We just hope it will end soon,” he said. China’s exports to Russia rose 33.8 per cent annually in 2021 to US$67.6 billion, representing 2 per cent of its total exports, according to Chinese customs data. The exclusion of Russia from the Swift global payment system has also prompted concern among Chinese exporters and cross-border sellers about receiving payments from their northern neighbours. US adds WeChat and AliExpress to list of ‘notorious’ markets for fake goods The issue has become a hot topic on an online forum for exporters, with industry practitioners asking how they can receive payments from Russian clients given the Swift ban, and wondering if they should even take on new orders from Russia. “One of our Russian clients said he will wait until the exchange rate stabilises and then make the final payment, and a new client just stopped responding to our messages [about payment],” an exporter wrote on the forum. The exclusion of Russia from Swift, the financial messaging system which banks use to arrange payments with foreign financial institutions, is having an impact on other aspects of Sino-Russian economic exchange. Dong Chen, a Moscow resident who runs education consultancy Yixin that advises Chinese students on studying in Russia, said he had to turn to cash and bank cards after Apple Pay was banned under the new sanctions.