336 billion reasons why the EU might be reluctant to sanction Russia

Dina Rickman@dinarickman
Wednesday 23 July 2014 15:10
Luggage and personal possessions from MH17 victims at the site of the crash

European Union leaders have faced severe criticism for failing to impose tough sanctions on Russia in the wake of the MH17 atrocity in which 289 people were killed.

The Sun newspaper has called on them to show some "boules", while Simon Heffer in the Daily Mail wrote that he believed the "stain of guilt" extended to Germany, France and Italy, saying "the heads of these three governments have put their own countries’ prosperity before a defence of Western democratic values and, indeed, human life".

The EU is Russia’s biggest overall trading partner, while Russia is Europe’s third-biggest trading partner after America and China.

In 2012, trade in goods between Russia and the EU was worth more than €336bn (£266bn), according to European Commission figures. Here’s how some of that trade translates in just five countries - including Britain:


France is building two warships for Russia as part of a €1.2billion (£0.95billion) contract, which has become a bone of contention among Western leaders.


The Times reports Britain exported £130m worth of arms exports to Russia last year. Russia also invest in our private schools system, with figures from the Independent Schools Council showing Russia are the fourth largest group of foreign pupils at independent schools in the UK, after those from Hong Kong, China and Germany.


Germany is Russia’s biggest European investor. The Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations has said a decline in trade between Germany and Russia this year had already endangered up to 25,000 German jobs.

According to Itar-Tass, its chairman Eckhard Cordes warned today that exports to Russia could decrease by €6bn (£4.7bn) this year even without sanctions, saying the Ukraine conflict “hampered economic progress in Eastern Europe. We feel the negative consequences”.

It’s not just jobs and trade, it’s energy. Germany gets about a third of its oil and gas from Russia.


In November, Putin said Italy was fourth in Russia’s trade partners, with luxury goods selling well in the country. Their imports from Russia are worth £15.9bn, while Russia supplies 38 per cent of its gas.

The Netherlands

The Daily Mail reports Russia was the biggest new market for exports from the Netherlands in 2013, which were worth around £6.3bn.

More: Here's another reason why Europe is reluctant to impose harsher sanctions on Russia