Opinion & Analysis

The European Union-Russia energy divorce: state of play

EU-Russia energy trade has fallen hugely since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the EU could still do more to reduce dependence. 

Two years on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, trade in energy products between Russia and the European Union has largely disappeared. The EU has adapted remarkably well to a decoupling that many would have considered impossible. Russia has redirected oil exports to Asia, but has not been able to replace Europe for its natural gas exports. We provide an overview of what has changed since February 2022 and then give more details about EU-Russia trade in oil, natural gas, coal, uranium and electricity.

The EU reduced imports of Russian fossil fuels from a high of $16 billion per month in early 2022 to around $1 billion per month by the end of 2023 (Figure 1). Cuts to oil imports accounted for the largest part of the reduction.

The impact of this evolution on Russia’s trade balance has been comparatively muted. While Russia no longer enjoys extraordinarily high export earnings, driven by high prices at the beginning of 2022, its mineral fuel export earnings are comparable to 2019 (Figure 2), mainly because of a shift in oil exports towards China, India and Turkey.

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About the Authors:

Ben McWilliams is working for Bruegel as an Affiliate fellow in the field of Energy and Climate Policy. His work involves data-driven analysis to critique and inform European public policy, specifically in the area of the energy sector and its decarbonisation.

Giovanni Sgaravatti works at Bruegel as an Energy and climate research analyst. He studied Economics (BSc) at University of Venice – Ca’ Foscari – including one semester at the University of Melbourne, and holds a Master’s degree in Quantitative Economics obtained in Venice – having done the whole second year at the Economics School of Louvain.

Simone Tagliapietra is a Senior fellow at Bruegel. He is also a Professor of Energy, Climate and Environmental Policy at the Catholic University of Milan and at The Johns Hopkins University – School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Europe.

Georg Zachmann is a Senior Fellow at Bruegel, where he has worked since 2009 on energy and climate policy. His work focuses on regional and distributional impacts of decarbonisation, the analysis and design of carbon, gas and electricity markets, and EU energy and climate policies.

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