Putin banked €1B last year from EU fuel buys despite ban

By Victor Jack | 02/26/2024 06:44 AM EST

Simple loophole in the EU’s ban on Russian oil allowed Moscow’s fuel to enter the bloc through foreign refineries.

BRUSSELS — The EU last year added €1 billion ($1.08 billion) to Vladimir Putin’s war chest through fuel purchases despite sweeping bans on Russian oil, a new study shared with POLITICO found.

In 2023, the EU bought an estimated 35 million barrels of refined fuels — mostly diesel — originating at least in part from Russia, according to the analysis by nongovernmental organization Global Witness based on Kpler shipping data.
the analysis by nongovernmental organization Global Witness

These purchases were allowed through a gaping and now well-known loophole: Despite the EU ban on nearly all Russian oil imports, countries can still legally buy Moscow’s crude as long as it’s first refined into fuels elsewhere. The result is a steady flow of Russian fuel entering to the EU via places like India and Turkey — and lots of money flowing back to the Kremlin.


The €1 billion figure — equivalent to the cost of around 60,000 of the Iranian-made Shahed drones that Moscow frequently uses to bomb Ukrainian cities — comes as the EU agreed to a 13th package of sanctions to mark two years since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.
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