WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has decided to ban Russian oil imports, toughening the toll on Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The move follows pleas by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to U.S. and Western officials to cut off the imports, which had been a glaring omission in the massive sanctions put in place on Russia over the invasion. Energy exports have kept a steady influx of cash flowing to Russia despite otherwise severe restrictions on its financial sector.
Biden was set to announce the move as soon as Tuesday, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter before his remarks. The White House said Biden would announce “actions to continue to hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine.”
The U.S. will be acting alone, but in close consultation with European allies, who are more dependent on Russian energy supplies. European nations have said they plan to reduce their reliance on Russia for their energy needs, but filling the void without crippling their economies will likely take some time. Natural gas from Russia accounts for one-third of Europe’s consumption of the fossil fuel. The U.S. does not import Russian natural gas.
Biden had explained his reluctance to impose energy sanctions at the outset of the conflict two weeks ago, saying that he was trying “to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump.”
Gas prices have been rising for weeks due to the conflict and in anticipation of potential sanctions on the Russian energy sector. The U.S. national average for a gallon of gasoline soared 45 cents a gallon in the past week and topped $4.06 on Monday, according to auto club AAA.
How about this?: No ban on Russian oil & gas until the U.S. lifts its ban on U.S. domestic energy.
Any Congressional bill to ban Russian energy should include lifting of all climate-related sanctions on U.S. homegrown energy!
— Marc Morano (@ClimateDepot) March 8, 2022