Russian ties, trade lie behind EU sanctions rift
* Germany makes up third of EU exports to Russia, worth 36 bln
* British Virgin Islands, Cyprus benefit from Russia money flows
By Robin Emmott
BRUSSELS, July 23 (Reuters) - Germany and Italy have most to lose if the European Union makes good on its threat to impose harsher sanctions on Moscow, while Britain's overseas territories are soaking up the lion's share of capital streaming out of Russia.
The picture emerging from United Nations and European Union data shows the impact of restricting trade with Russia would be far from even, with Germany dwarfing others' exposure and those urging sanctions loudest, such as Sweden, having less at stake.
That makes an EU plan to consider limiting Russian access to European defence and energy technology more difficult, despite pressure from the United States after the downing of a Malaysian airliner over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine.
Wary of antagonising its main gas supplier, the EU has used travel bans and asset freezes so far in reaction to Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in Ukraine.
Ministers agreed on Tuesday those measures may be widened if Moscow does not cooperate with an investigation into the plane crash and fails to stop weapons flowing into the country.
Limiting trade would be damaging because the 28-nation EU sold goods worth 120 billion euros ($161 billion) to Russia last year, even if that was only 7 percent of the bloc's annual exports, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat. Continuación...