While the U.S. is moving away fast from Russian energy imports, the EU—one of Russia’s crucial trading partners—is taking more time to ween itself off Russian gas, oil and coal despite heightened scrutiny of the country that invaded Ukraine at the end of February. Import data on both the EU and the U.S. shows how large the difference in their energy dependence on Russia really is.
Russia’s exports are heavily focused on raw materials, with mineral fuels making up the absolute majority of the goods both the EU and the U.S. received from the country in 2021. Other raw materials like iron, steel and wood as well as precious stones and metals made up much smaller parts of imports from Russia in both countries.
This chart shows EU and U.S. imports of goods from Russia in 2021, by category (in billion U.S. … [+] dollars).
The significant mineral oil imports translated into $50 million spent on Russian energy per day in the U.S. pre-invasion, in contrast to almost $300 million spent on it in the EU every day. This is according to numbers by the European Commission, the UN Comtrade database and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Products imported from Russia made up only 0.7 percent of the U.S.’ total trade in goods last year, while this stood at a more significant 3.6 percent in the EU. However, both countries have been trying to chart a similar course in putting a stop to these energy imports that are so important to financing the Russian state.
Only small parts of the EU, arguably those that had somewhat prepared themselves for the current situation, have been able to become independent of Russian energy in the past month and a half. Baltic states Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia announced this week that they were stopping all energy imports from Russia. U.S. Congress on Thursday almost unanimously passed a bill banning the import of Russian oil, gas and coal after similar orders had already come out of the White House. Being a large fossil fuel producer itself, the U.S. certainly has an easier time to follow through on this ban.
Deeply ingrained energy dependence
The EU, on the other hand, has only issued a ban of Russian coal, also as of Thursday. The fossil fuel is the easiest to replace for the bloc, according to The New York Times, and the ban is expected to take four months to come into full effect. Yet, the possibility of replacing Russian coal with imports from other countries will not shield the EU from paying a premium for the change-over, which would then be passed on to consumers.
Russian oil and gas imports are much more ingrained in Europe’s energy infrastructure, arriving on the continent via pipelines. According to a release by the European Union, complete Russian energy independence can only be achieved by the second half of the current decade, or “well before 2030”, as the report puts it. The EU is attempting, however, to cut its demand for Russian gas by two thirds before the end of 2022, an ambitious goal as non-pipeline gas delivery terminals are not widespread in parts of the continent. Here, Baltic nations had made provisions by opening a new LNG terminal at the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda in 2014 and linking it to the gas pipeline network in the region.
Other European nations, however, have less of a choice in their oil and gas imports until infrastructure upgrades are made. They instead have to rely on a piecemeal approach of implementing small changes, including making appeals to their citizens to slow down their cars, shorten their hot showers, turn down their heaters and wear “pullovers again Putin.”

Charted by Statista

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