Discussion paper

DP17957 Assessing the Impact of International Sanctions on Russian Oil Exports

We use a unique high-frequency Russian customs dataset to evaluate the impact of international sanctions on Russia – focusing on Russian crude oil and oil products exports, as they are the key sources of export earnings and government revenues. We study the effects of two focal sanctions measures – the EU embargo and G7 price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil, which both took effect on December 5, 2022. We find that Russia was able to redirect crude oil exports from Europe to alternative markets such as India, China, and Turkey but that export earnings were curbed substantially by the sizable discounts that Russian exporters had to accept in market segments where the impeding EU embargo lowered demand, e.g., exports from Baltic Sea ports – a dynamic that only became more pronounced after the embargo and price cap’s taking effect. However, we do not find crude oil discounts as large as those reflected in Urals prices towards the end of 2022. In particular, prices in market segments that are unaffected by lower European demand, e.g., exports from Russia’s Pacific Ocean ports, have not dropped in a meaningful way and shipments do not appear to comply with the price cap. What the EU embargo and G7 price cap have, thus, triggered is a fundamental fragmentation of the market for Russian crude oil. Based on our analysis, we conclude that a central focus of policy going forward should be the enforcement of existing sanctions on Russian oil – along with the lowering of the oil price cap. As far as oil products are concerned, we show that it is significantly less feasible to redirect exports away from the European market. This suggests that the EU embargo on oil products, which took effect on February 5, 2023, will prove to be a powerful additional tool to further curb Russian export and fiscal revenues.


Babina, T, B Hilgenstock, O Itskhoki, M Mironov and E Ribakova (2023), ‘DP17957 Assessing the Impact of International Sanctions on Russian Oil Exports‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 17957. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp17957