BEIJING- Chinese exports to sanctions-hit Russia tumbled in June for the fourth straight month, while Russian shipments to China continued at an elevated pace, official data showed on Wednesday.

Shipments to Russia fell 17% in June from the same month a year earlier in dollar terms, worse than May's 8.6% year-on-year decline, according to Reuters calculations based on customs data.

Imports from Russia, however, surged 56% in June versus the same month in 2021, on top of a jump of 80% in May.

For the first half of the year, China's exports to its neighbour slumped to meagre growth of 2.1%, as international sanctions on Russia bit. Imports, on the other hand, jumped 48%.

Russia is a major source of oil, gas, coal and agricultural commodities for China.

Reuters reported that China extended record imports of low-priced Russian crude oil into June despite a COVID-19 lockdown-induced slackening in its total crude oil imports, squeezing out supplies from the Middle East and West Africa.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, an intervention Moscow describes as a "special military operation".

Western countries and their allies have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.

China has declined to call Russia's action an invasion and has repeatedly said its trade with Russia remains normal.

(Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Kenneth Maxwell)