Russian manufacturing activity shrank in March at its fastest pace since the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020, dragged down by sharply rising delivery times and shortages of materials, a business survey showed on Friday.

The S&P Global purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell to 44.1 from 48.6 in the previous month, well below the 50.0 mark that separates expansion from contraction.

The survey did not mention that Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, or the harsh economic sanctions against Moscow that that move triggered.

Manufacturing firms registered another deterioration in vendor performance, S&P Global said.

"Lead times lengthened substantially, and to the greatest extent on record amid severe material shortages," it said.

Companies also said material shortages were hampering efforts to replenish stocks.

The survey recorded the most substantial increase in selling prices on record, and the sharpest uptick in input prices since the series began in September 1997.

Employment declined for a second consecutive month, linked to the fall in client demand and new orders, with the rate of job-shedding quickening to its fastest since July 2020.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by John Stonestreet)