The shabby truth behind the EU’s Russian ‘sanctions’

Graham Charles Lear
4 min readDec 30, 2022


Smoke rises from the front lines of a fierce battle between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine

Exposed — EU buys more from Putin’s ‘trade embargoed’ Russia than from the UK.

Vladimir Putin’s Russian army invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022. This article looks at two major questions:-

  1. How much are the EU27 buying from Brexit Britain, compared with their purchases from Putin’s Russia?
  2. How fast did Brexit Britain respond with trade sanctions, compared with the lumbering EU?

I have used the most up-to-date figures available for trade in goods, which run up to the month of October (2022). The analysis uses two official sources: the EU Commission’s statistics agency, Eurostat, and the UK’s statistics agency (the ONS).

Funding Putin’s war machine

Both the United Kingdom and the European Union have issued sanctions of various kinds against Putin’s Russia, following its illegal invasion of Ukraine. The EU Commission has slowly announced a large number of ‘sanctions packages’, (I stopped counting after the sixth one), but the key measure is the impact these have had on the funding of Putin’s war machine.

Words are cheap, as the saying goes, but it is actions that matter. I have therefore analysed the trade figures of the EU and of the United Kingdom, in relation to Russia.

Let's start with the EU’s volume of purchases from hostile Russia compared with its purchases from the friendly country that is Brexit Britain.

1. TOTAL GOODS IMPORTS — The EU’s purchases of international goods

The EU buys more from Putin’s Russia than from the UK

Latest official EU statistics, 12 months to October 2022

  • From the United Kingdom: €213.9bn
  • From Putin’s Russia: €217.7bn

[ Source: Eurostat — EU Commission’s official statistics agency ]

How fast did the nimble Brexit Britain respond, compared with the EU?

Back on 24 February when Putin invaded, the world expected a swift conflict. It was therefore necessary to act fast to demonstrate to the Russian government that it would suffer financially in short order.

The analysis shows unequivocally that Brexit Britain’s sanctions bit hard almost immediately following the invasion.

In order to show the relative falls for the EU and the UK I have set October 2021 at 100 and the following chart shows how each performed in relation to their purchases from Russia since then.


Latest official EU and UK statistics, 12 months to October 2022

The drop in goods purchases from Russia — last 12 months, an index set at Oct 2021=100

The fast reaction of Brexit Britain to Putin’s invasion compared with the lumbering EU

  • United Kingdom — Oct 2022 compared to Oct 2021: -97.3%
  • European Union — Oct 2022 compared to Oct 2021: -24.6%

[ Sources: Eurostat — EU Commission’s official statistics agency — and the UK’s Office for National Statistics ]

The EU’s funding of Putin’s Russia continues

In the last 12 months, the EU has paid Putin’s Russia €235 billion euros. In October alone the EU paid €13bn euros (approx £10bn GBP).

By contrast, Brexit Britain has been able to cut all but the most essential purchases to the bone.

The analysis above shows clearly how much better the nimble, fleet-of-foot, Brexit Britain responded to Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, than did the lumbering, bureaucratic and dysfunctional EU.

Short of declaring war — which was out of the question — the next best thing was to hurt Putin’s regime in the pocket. And to do this very fast. This meant cutting off his country’s supply of money with which to fund the grotesque military operations his army and air force have perpetrated in Ukraine.

Rejoiners will no doubt bleat about the EU’s figures being distorted by higher prices for gas, oil and coal. This ignores a fundamental point.

The EU was warned…

The EU — and Germany in particular — was warned over and over again by the UK and US governments about its over-dependence on Russian energy supplies. Despite this, Angela Merkel continued with the ill-fated Nordstream II pipeline project from Russia. President Trump himself weighed in, as I reported at the time, but to no avail. Even when Putin was amassing his troops on Ukraine’s borders, this project was going ahead regardless.

Germany made no provision for any backup plan. For example, they did not have a single LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) terminal, as the UK has, to be able to import gas in an emergency. Macron’s France has singularly failed to maintain its fleet of nuclear power stations, with many now unusable.

Now we have Germany firing up 151 mothballed coal-fired power stations, to pump out even more greenhouse gases across Europe.

Another Brexit dividend

I suggest that — despite our massive reservations about the UK’s own energy policies — Brexit Britain has been a shining beacon of light compared to the EU.

Now there’s another Brexit benefit for readers.

Sources: EU Commission (Eurostat) | UK Office for National Statistics



Graham Charles Lear

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