Britain imports no fuel from Russia in June for first time on record

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The British flag flies on the embassy building in front of the Moscow International Business Center, also known as "Moskva-City", in Moscow, Russia March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

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LONDON, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Britain imported no fuel from Russia in June for the first time since records began 25 years ago, as sanctions on Moscow in response to its invasion of Ukraine helped drive a 97% fall in imports of Russian goods, official data showed on Wednesday.

The British government has banned the import of some Russian products and hiked tariffs on others as part of its economic sanctions package. It has also said it will phase out imports of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022. read more

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there had been a sharp and continued decrease in fuel imports from Russia since March, with June's zero imports representing a decrease of 499 million pounds ($588 million) compared with the monthly average for the 12 months before the invasion in February this year.

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Russia was the UK's largest supplier of refined oil in 2021, the ONS said. By June, there were no imports of refined oil, crude oil, gas or coal, coke and briquettes from Russia.

The ONS said that imports of refined oil from Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Kuwait had increased, as importers sought alternatives.

Domestic gas production in the United Kingdom also rose 26% in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year, an industry body said on Wednesday. read more

The ONS data showed imports of goods from Russia fell to 33 million pounds in June, the lowest since records began in January 1997 and a 96.6% fall compared with the average monthly imports in the 12 months to February.

While Britain's economic sanctions on Russia likely drove the fall in trade, businesses "self-sanctioning" or voluntarily seeking alternatives to Russian goods, was also a likely factor, the ONS said.

British exports to Russia recorded a slight month-on-month increase in June, but have still dropped by two-thirds compared with the monthly average for the 12 months to February, the data, which doesn't include trade in services, showed.

The increase was driven by 39.1 million pounds of exports of drugs and medicines, which are exempt from sanctions.

($1 = 0.8454 pounds)

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Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar, Editing by Kylie MacLellan, Kirsten Donovan

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