EU’s hypocrisy in its trade with Putin’s Russia

Graham Charles Lear
4 min readSep 4, 2023

This is a two-part report

EU propaganda versus the reality

On Friday the EU unwisely published one of its regular propaganda pieces.

This one was about its trade with Putin’s Russia, patting itself on the back for reducing its trade with that pariah state.

I say unwisely because it gave me the chance to interrogate the detailed figures for the 12 months to June this year, both from the EU Commission and from the UK’s Office for National Statistics. The results are shocking.

Part One — Total trade (imports and exports) of the EU and UK with Russia as a % of their total international trade (This report)
Part Two — Imports and exports with Russia — how much are the EU and UK buying and selling?

Given that the relative sizes of the EU’s and the UK’s international trade are very different, I have used percentages as the EU itself did on Friday. This allows for a true comparison between how the UK and the EU have been treating Russia in their commercial trading arrangements, in relation to their relative sizes.

The EU’s and the UK’s trade with Putin’s Russia, 12 months to June 2023

[Sources: EU Commission statistics agency and the UK’s Office for National Statistics, accessed 03 Sept 2023.]

Total trade (imports and exports) with Russia as % of their total trade globally

  • EU: 2.88% (28 times larger than the UK’s trade with Russia, pro rata)
  • UK: 0.10%

The EU’s trade with Putin’s Russia since he invaded Ukraine

The simple fact is that in the 12 months to June 2023, the EU27 have paid Putin’s Russia €111.2bn for goods, despite its supposed sanctions. They have also sold Putin’s Russian goods to the value of €45.6bn.

Looking at the period from when Putin invaded Ukraine (for the second time) to the end of June this year, the figures are as follows:-

The EU’s and the UK’s import and export trade with Putin’s Russia, 12 months to June 2023

[Sources: EU Commission statistics agency, accessed 03 Sept 2023.]

  • The amount the EU27 have paid to Russia : €189.8bn (approx £163bn GBP)
  • The amount the EU27 have sold to Russia : €60.6bn (approx £52bn GBP)
  • The total value of EU trade with Putin’s Russia in just 12 months: €¼ trillion (approx £215bn GBP)

On Friday the EU Commission put a different interpretation of the data

Here is what they said

© EU Commission 2023

The headline from the EU’s statistics agency is based on a single month’s figures for June. Responsible statisticians would never take a single month’s trade data and use this to make a political point.

I have looked at the trade data over the last year, which shows just how slowly the EU has reacted compared to the UK. The EU’s commercial dealings with Putin’s Russia may have fallen in value — but too slowly and not by nearly enough.

The UK acted fast to reduce its trade with Putin’s Russia to a trickle — within a few months. Conversely, the EU has acted sluggishly and has continued to buy from Russia and continue to sell to it.

In Part Two of this report, I will reveal how Brexit Britain as an independent country can hold its head up high compared to the EU.

What of the EU’s ‘sanctions packages’ against Russia?

When it comes to international sanctions, these need to be immediate and coordinated if they are going to have the desired effect in altering the behaviour of the rogue state in question — in this case Russia.

Since Putin illegally invaded Ukraine in February 2022 the EU has been very slow and ineffective. To this day the EU is buying Russian goods, thereby helping to fund the Russian economy during Putin’s atrocities against Ukraine. EU companies have also continued to profit from their sales to Putin’s Russia. Furthermore, they have been doing this on a massive scale since Putin first invaded Ukraine (Crimea) in 2014

Some of the latest sanction packages have been designed to address the growing problem of Russia circumventing the measures by using third countries through which to channel their goods. This has been very useful for those EU countries who were happy to turn a blind eye to the provenance of energy products in particular.

The figures I have shown above are those for direct purchases from Russia and direct sales to it. The reality is that the numbers would be even higher if the sales to and from third countries were correctly classified as originating from Russia.

The EU propaganda continues

Regardless of the realities outlined above, the EU Commission has continued to put out a relentless series of statements accompanying its 12 sets of sanctions spread over the last 18 months. Even when it does not have new sanctions to announce it proclaims what it is doing on a regular basis.

The report shows the numbers that the EU cannot escape from. Part Two will reveal how Brexit Britain as an independent country can hold its head up high compared to the EU. Don’t miss it because it will make you proud to be British.

Sources: EU Commission | ONS



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.