UK imported no fuels from Russia in June while import of goods also dropped to £33m

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Britain imported no fuels from Russia in June for the first time on record following the imposition of sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine, official data shows.

The figure published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) comes after the UK moved to sever all reliance on Moscow for its power needs in the face of Kremlin aggression by phasing out the use of its oil and gas.

Russia has subsequently been accused of weaponising energy by limiting gas supplies through the Nord Stream pipeline to Europe in retaliation for sanctions, fuelling soaring prices and the deepening cost of living crisis ahead of winter.

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The import of Russian goods also dropped to £33m in June, the lowest level since records began in January 1997, according to the ONS.

This represents a 96.6% fall compared with the average monthly imports in the 12 months before the Ukraine invasion in February this year.

Although British exports to Russia rose slightly month-on-month in June, their levels have dropped by £168m, some two-thirds, compared with the monthly average in the year to February.

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Exports of most commodities had fallen substantially by June, with machinery and transport equipment plunging by £118m or 91%.

Chemicals were the only commodity exported to Russia that increased over this period, driven by an increase of £39.1m (61.8%) in exports of drugs and medicines, which are exempt from sanctions.

While economic sanctions imposed by the UK are likely to have driven the fall in imports and exports, the ONS points out that so-called “self-sanctioning”, where traders voluntarily seek alternatives to Russian goods, was also likely a factor.

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The figures were published as Ukraine celebrated 31 years since it declared independence from the Soviet Union, while it also marked six months since Russia’s invasion began.

Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, Russia was the UK’s largest supplier of refined oil in 2021, accounting for 24.1% of all imports of this commodity, and also accounted for 5.9% of the UK’s crude oil imports, and 4.9% of the nation’s gas imports.

As a result of the UK government’s action, there were no imports of refined oil, crude oil, gas or coal, coke and briquettes from Russia in June.

This has prompted importers to seek alternatives and there have been increases in imports of refined oil from Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Kuwait in recent months.

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