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Britain’s imports of goods from Russia fell to their lowest level in June since records began 25 years ago, driven largely by sanctions on Moscow in response to its invasion of Ukraine, official data showed on Wednesday.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said imports of goods from Russia were £33-million ($39-million) in June, a 96.6 per cent fall compared with the average monthly imports in the 12 months before the invasion in February this year.

In June, Britain also imported no fuel from Russia for the first time ever. Russia was the UK’s largest supplier of refined oil in 2021, the ONS said.

The British government has banned the import of some Russian products and hiked tariffs on others as part of its sanctions package. It has also said it will phase out imports of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022.

While these economic sanctions on Russia likely drove the fall in trade, businesses “self-sanctioning” or voluntarily seeking alternatives to Russian goods, was also a likely factor, the ONS said.

British exports to Russia recorded a slight month-on-month increase in June, but have still dropped by two-thirds compared with the monthly average for the 12 months to February, the data, which doesn’t include trade in services, showed.

The increase was driven by £39.1-million of exports of drugs and medicines, which are exempt from sanctions.

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