Every cent to Russian oil and gas is a bullet to be used against Ukraine

8th March 2022, London – In response to Putin’s illegitimate war in Ukraine, Global Witness is today calling on the US, EU and UK to place sanctions on Russia’s fossil fuel industry, to ensure not a single cent, pound or dime makes it into the Russian war chest through oil, gas and coal.

Around 40% of Russia’s state revenues come from the oil and gas sector and activists in Ukraine have called on the world to support their struggle against Putin’s atrocities by cutting off this huge source of income.

It comes just days after Shell were exposed for trying to cash in on the war, profiteering from trading Russian oil.

Mike Davis, CEO of Global Witness, said:

“We have all watched horrified at the events of the past few weeks as Putin has unleashed his deadly and catastrophic invasion of Ukraine, trampling all over the notion of peace, international law and human rights. Those states outside of Russia are not powerless and can cut off the biggest source of Putin’s war chest by ending the billions of dollars, pounds and euros we pay for Russian oil and gas.

“Every cent given for Russian oil and gas is another bullet to be indiscriminately used against the people of Ukraine. They have asked the world for help, and it is our moral duty to answer – sanctioning the Russian fossil fuel industry would be a genuinely powerful response to these calls.

“Fossil fuels are a driver of conflict and give both power and revenues to despots and warmongers. If we are serious about a world without war, respect for human rights and justice we need a world without the destructive influence of fossil fuels. And the fight for that world must start today.”

Global Witness has campaigned for 25 years to tackle the trade in natural resources that drive conflicts around the world, including blood diamonds, conflict minerals, as well as cases involving oil, timber, gems and cocoa. 

Davis continued:

“Cutting off the flow of Russian fossil fuels into Europe will no doubt come at a cost, but it is one we must be willing to pay if we are to truly stand against war. It is a tiny cost compared to that paid in Ukrainian lives. In parallel with introducing sanctions a huge package of support must be deployed to ensure that they do not deepen Europe’s ongoing energy poverty crisis and that no one has to choose between heating and eating. The need for everyone to be able to afford to heat their home must come before worries about economic growth.

“Ultimately the most effective way to cut off the funds flowing to Putin’s war chest is to end Europe’s dependence on all fossil fuels as fast as possible. Governments should put home insulation and the installation of renewable energy on a war footing to be delivered as fast as possible – this is the home front in support of the battle in Ukraine.

“An embargo must not be used as a justification for new fossil fuel projects – whether in Europe or in the US where the self-serving fossil fuel industry has already shamelessly jumped on this crisis to claim that they can save Europe from its reliance on Russia. But fossil fuel production and exports simply cannot increase fast enough to meet Europe’s demand in the short term, and in the long term the future for Europe will be a future beyond gas.”