UK To Phase Out Russian Oil Import By The End Of The Year

The UK has announced it will phase out the import of Russian oil by the end of the year as part of its sanctions on Moscow for invading Ukraine.

The move, confirmed by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, has been matched by US President Joe Biden as the West looks to tighten the squeeze on the Russian economy.

It is likely to send the cost of fuel soaring even higher after prices at the petrol pumps reached a 14 year high.

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There are fears the Russian invasion of Ukraine will make oil and gas a gold-like commodity, with Moscow oil imports making up 8% of UK demand.

Kwarteng said British firms should use the remains of this year to ‘ensure a smooth transition,’ adding that a new Taskforce on Oil will be established.

This will help firms find ‘alternative supplies’ before the ban comes into force by 2023, the Cabinet minister pledged.

He added that he is ‘exploring options’ to end the use of Russian natural gas – which makes up 4% of the British supplies.

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Mr Kwarteng said: ‘The UK is a significant producer of oil and oil products, plus we hold significant reserves.

‘Beyond Russia, the vast majority of our imports come from reliable partners such as the US, Netherlands and the Gulf.

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‘We’ll work with them this year to secure further supplies.

‘The market has already begun to ostracise Russian oil, with nearly 70% of it currently unable to find a buyer.

‘Finally, while the UK is not dependent on Russian natural gas, 4% of our supply, I am exploring options to end this altogether.’

Boris Johnson has suggested that diesel prices could be set to rise further in Britain after the announcement, with prices at the pumps already having soared following Moscow’s attack on Kyiv.

But the prime minister said the UK was ‘less exposed’ than some European nations when it came to restricting Russian oil.

The European Union imports more than a quarter of its oil from Russia, but Mr Johnson predicted the UK Government’s decision ‘won’t affect’ domestic businesses.

He said: ‘The UK is less exposed (than European allies) but clearly we do have diesel that comes from Russia and we can’t move overnight.

‘But we can certainly do it and we can do it in a way that doesn’t disrupt supply, that ensures we have substitute supplies on stream in an orderly way and in a timetable that won’t affect UK business, won’t affect UK manufacturing, road haulage or other parts of our industry but will punish the regime of Vladimir Putin.’

British energy giant Shell already said it will stop buying oil and gas from Russia and shut all of its service stations in the country.

It is the latest in a long line of companies boycotting Russia, including PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and Netflix.

The PM accepted that the decision to target Moscow’s oil would not hit the Kremlin’s regime immediately, with Ukraine continuing to face assault, but said it would add to the ‘extreme’ sanctions already levied.

People stand in line to use an ATM money machine in Saint Petersburg, Russia

‘The Russian stock market hasn’t opened for almost a week, the rouble has tanked and the noose is tightening,’ he said.

The measure was announced moments before Ukraine’s President summoned the spirit of Winston Churchill during an historic address to the House of Commons.

Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to fight on, telling parliament: ‘We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost. We will fight in the forests, the fields, the shores and in the streets.’

Tomorrow will mark a fortnight since a coordinated series of air strikes across Ukraine heralded the beginning of a full-scale attack which shows no signs of abating.

While the UK and Nato allies are stepping up efforts to isolate the Kremlin economically and diplomatically, they have resisted Zelensky’s calls to impose a no-fly zone above Ukraine’s skies.

Such a move would see fighter jets from America and other Nato members patrolling the air space above Ukraine and shooting down any Russian jets that enter – effectively putting the West at war with Russia.

Photo Credit: Getty

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