THE UK Government has joined the US in banning the import of Russian oil. 

Kwasi Kwarteng, the Westminster Business Secretary, said the UK would wind down the import of oil by the end of this year.

Joe Biden also confirmed he would do the same minutes later.

On social media, Mr Kwarteng tweeted: "The UK will phase out the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022.

"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.

"Businesses should use this year to ensure a smooth transition so that consumers will not be affected.

"The government will also work with companies through a new Taskforce on Oil to support them to make use of this period in finding alternative supplies."

President Biden said during a press conference that banning imports of oil to the US was a "powerful blow” to “Putin’s war”, but warned Americans that " defending freedom is going to cost”. 

The Prime Minister suggested that diesel prices could be set to rise further in Britain after the announcement, with prices at the pumps already having soared following Moscow’s attack on Kyiv.

But Boris Johnson said the UK was “less exposed” than some European nations when it came to restricting Russian oil.

The European Union imports more than a quarter of its oil from Russia, but Mr Johnson predicted the UK Government’s decision “won’t affect” domestic businesses.

Speaking to broadcasters in London, Mr Johnson said: “The UK is less exposed (than European allies) but clearly we do have diesel that comes from Russia and we can’t move overnight.

“But we can certainly do it and we can do it in a way that doesn’t disrupt supply, that ensures we have substitute supplies on stream in an orderly way and in a timetable that won’t affect UK business, won’t affect UK manufacturing, road haulage or other parts of our industry but will punish the regime of Vladimir Putin.”

He accepted that the decision to target Moscow’s oil would not hit the Kremlin’s regime immediately, with Ukraine continuing to face assault, but said it would add to the “extreme” sanctions already levied.

“The Russian stock market hasn’t opened for almost a week, the rouble has tanked and the noose is tightening,” the Prime Minister added.

Ed Miliband, Labour's Shadow Secretary for Climate and Net Zero, welcomed the move.

He said: "It is the right decision to ban imports of Russian oil. We need to do everything possible to isolate the Putin regime.

“This decision reinforces the case for further action to tackle the cost of living crisis at home. Rising energy bills are already a concern for families up and down the country, which is why Labour has proposed a series of practical costed measures, including a windfall tax on oil and gas producers.

“This approach also further underlines the need for a decisive move towards clean energy to improve our resilience as a country and to protect us from rocketing energy prices.”

Deirdre Michie OBE, CEO of Offshore Energies UK, said: “The UK has diverse, secure, and reliance energy sources with the majority of it coming from domestic production and pipelined supply from Norway.

"We continue to work with the government and our members to see how we can build on this reliable energy base while continue to rapidly accelerate the transition to cleaner energies.

"We will consider these proposals in more detail in the coming days and stand ready to work with government as we provide the skills, capabilities and infrastructure required to deliver the UK’s energy ambitions.”