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The entrance to the building housing offices of Russian oil company Rosneft in Berlin, on March 15.ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

A more than 50% jump in the value of oil and gas imports drove a sharp rise in German trade with Russia in January, the month before the invasion of Ukraine which has prompted Western sanctions, the Statistics Office said on Tuesday.

Imports and exports were up on the year but an increase in prices for crude oil and natural gas led to an import surplus of 1.8 billion euros ($2 billion) in January compared to 900 million euros a year earlier.

Exports to Russia rose 31% to 2.1 billion euros while Germany’s imports from Russia surged by 58% to 4.0 billion euros. Russian imports accounted for 4% of Germany’s overall imports in January.

The European Union, United States and other Western countries have imposed a range of sanctions on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 and many companies have halted their business activities there.

However, Germany’s dependence on Russian energy - just under a third of gas in Europe’s biggest economy comes from Russia - has meant Berlin has resisted calls to stop energy imports.

Crude oil and natural gas worth 2.6 billion euros were the main imports in January, that was 54% higher than a year ago and accounted for 24% of Germany’s imports of those goods.

Imports of metals and coal were also up, at 452 million euros and 330 million euros, respectively, the Office said.

Exports to Russia consisted mainly of machinery, vehicles and chemical products and accounted for 2% of Germany’s total exports.

Sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU in February have resulted in a ban on exports of goods and technologies for use in the aerospace sector. Aircraft accounted for 3% of Germany’s total exports to Russia last year, the Office said.

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