Britain will phase out imports of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday, joining other nations including the United States in reducing their energy dependency on Russia.
In response to President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade of Ukraine, Britain and others are seeking ways to deprive Moscow of income and cut their own use of Russian energy exports by becoming more self-sufficient.
"In another economic blow to the Putin regime following their illegal invasion of Ukraine, the UK will move away from dependence on Russian oil throughout this year, building on our severe package of international economic sanctions," Johnson said in a statement.
"Working with industry, we are confident that this can be achieved over the course of the year, providing enough time for companies to adjust and ensuring consumers are protected."
Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng called on businesses to use the rest of this year to ensure a smooth transition, and said the government would set up a taskforce to work with firms to find alternative suppliers.
"This transition will give the market, businesses and supply chains more than enough time to replace Russian imports – which make up 8% of UK demand," Kwarteng said on Twitter.
He also said he was exploring options to end British imports of Russian gas which accounts for about 4% of supply in the country.
In a coordinated move, the United States, the world's biggest oil consumer, announced a ban on Russian oil imports.
In anticipation of the action by Britain and the United States, oil prices rose with Brent surging past $132 a barrel.
Also on Tuesday, the European Commission published plans to cut the EU's dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds this year and end its reliance on Russian supplies of the fuel "well before 2030".
(Reuters - Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, William James and Elizabeth Piper; Editing by William Schomberg)