UKRAINE'S foreign minister has criticised Shell for buying oil from Russia, and called on the public to demand big companies cut all business ties with Vladimir Putin’s country.

The oil giant confirmed it made a purchase of crude oil on Friday but said it had “no alternative” in this instance.

Dmytro Kuleba hit out publicly, asking the firm on Twitter: “Doesn’t Russian oil smell [of] Ukrainian blood for you?”

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It comes after Shell announced on Monday plans to sell its stake in all joint ventures with Russian partner Gazprom, calling the Ukrainian invasion “senseless” and a threat to European security.

Kuleba tweeted: “I am told that Shell discretely bought some Russian oil yesterday. One question to @Shell: doesn’t Russian oil smell [of] Ukrainian blood for you?

“I call on all conscious people around the globe to demand multinational companies to cut all business ties with Russia.”

Sharing images of the conflict in his country, he added: "Stop Putin. Stop buying Russian oil. Act now."

A spokesman for Shell confirmed to the PA news agency it had bought a consignment of Russian crude oil on Friday but said the company is trying to maintain supplies of essential fuels and it had no alternative crude supplies which would reach Europe in time.

In a statement, the firm said it remains “appalled by the war in Ukraine” and said it has stopped most activities involving Russian oil but added that the situation with supplies is “highly complex”.

It added: “We currently purchase it and other Russian products for some refineries and chemical plants to ensure that we continue the production of essential fuels – including petrol and diesel – that people and businesses rely on every day.

“We will further reduce our use of Russian oil as alternative crudes become available to buy, but this is highly complex as Russian oil plays a significant role in global supply and in the current, tight market there is a relative lack of alternatives.

“In compliance with current sanctions, we are working to continue to securely supply energy to our customers across Europe and other markets.”

On Monday, the company revealed it would sell its 27.5% stake in a Russian liquefied natural gas facility, a 50% stake in an oilfield project in Siberia and an energy joint venture.

It will also end its involvement in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany, which has been put on hold by ministers in Berlin.