The EU is set to propose a phased ban on Russian oil imports, after already banning coal
The EU is set to propose a phased ban on Russian oil imports, after already banning coal AFP / Tobias SCHWARZ

Since the Ukraine crisis, the U.S. and EU have been endeavoring to cut off goods flows into and from Russia, the second-largest energy producer in the world.

However, a study by Finland-based independent think-tank Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) showed that 71 percent of the €63 billion worth of fossil fuels, including crude, oil products, piped gas, LNG, and coal, were exported by Russia to the EU nations since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with Germany, the largest EU economy, as the top buyer.

With the sweeping sanctions against Russia, the U.S.-led Western coalition was trying to prevent Moscow from obtaining dollars, the global trading and reserve currency, from oil-gas sales to fund its special operation in Ukraine.

The aim was to make Russia pauper by preventing all major sources of earning foreign currencies which are needed to conduct global trade. Currently, fossil fuel exports serve as a key enabler of Russia's military buildup against Ukraine.

Russia is trying to stay put with the U.S., EU, and NATO sanctions that do not apply to energy, food, and pharmaceutical products. In the case of oil, wheat and fertilizers, Russia, the 11the largest economy in the world, enjoys a near-monopoly.

Despite the noise from the U.S., it has now emerged that the EU shipped more fossil fuels from Russia after Moscow attacked Ukraine Feb. 24.

The U.S. has also put pressure on its European allies to not buy Russian energy against the backdrop of the ongoing crisis in Eastern Europe. The EU faces pressure from both the U.S. and the UK to impose a complete ban on Russian oil. In March, U.S. Treasury set a deadline to end deals on oil and coal imports from Russia by April 22.

According to CREA, the largest importers were: Germany (€ 9.1 billion), Italy (€ 6.9 billion), Netherlands (€ 5.6 billion), Turkey (€ 4.1 billion), and France (€ 3.8 billion), the report said, and added that LNG and gas purchases to the EU rose by 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

However, the think-tank said shipments were lower than the pre-invasion period.

The study titled "Financing Putin's War on Europe" said that China imported Russian oil worth €6.7 billion.

EU ports like Rotterdam and Maasvlakte in the Netherlands, Trieste in Italy, Gdansk in Poland, and Zeebrugge in Belgium handled a bulk of Russian oil to the EU, the CREA study observed.

CREA stated that Russia has earned €63 billion ($66.5 billion) from fossil fuel exports since the Ukraine invasion.

Russia is using money from Fossil fuel exports to fund its Russia's military buildup and aggression against Ukraine, the study noted.

Based on ship movements, real-time tracking of gas flows, and past monthly trade, the study stated that many fossil fuel companies, including BP, Shell, Total and ExxonMobil, continued with their high volumes of trade with Russia.

Though Russia's oil export volumes have been decreasing after the Ukraine invasion, the increase in global fossil fuel prices has aided its cause.

On April 30, oil prices rose for the fourth consecutive day and Brent Crude rose 1.7 percent to $109.40 per barrel, while WTI Crude went up by 1.03 percent to $106.50 per barrel.

Currently, Russia gets good amount of money from Europe itself to fund one of the biggest conflicts in Eastern Europe after the Second World War.

As long as oil prices are becoming dearer, there is no reason for Russia to worry about its special operation in Eastern Europe because wealthy European nations are there to buy it despite the diktat by the U.S.