President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a ban on the U.S. importing Russian oil and natural gas, declaring that he is “targeting the main artery of Russia’s economy.”
“Russian oil will no longer be accepted at U.S. ports,” the president said in remarks at the White House. “We will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war.”
The president said his decision comes after consulting with European allies, although he said some are not able to join the U.S. in banning Russian oil. Still, the European Commission (E.U.) said it plans to reduce imports of Russian energy by two-thirds, even though it gets 40% of it from Russia. For its part, the United Kingdom is to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of 2022.
Biden had been under heavy pressure to cut off imports of energy from Russian, the world’s third-largest producer of oil and second-largest producer of natural gas.
The president levied sanctions against Russia before its invasion of Ukraine, but they had no effect. Biden has since been struggling to find a way to hit Putin. On Monday, he spoke with the leaders of Britain, France and Germany by video on Monday, and the four “affirmed their determination to continue raising the costs on Russia for its unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine,” according to a White House statement.
Upon taking office, Biden took more than two dozen actions to stem oil production in the U.S., including the termination of the Keystone pipeline. That has led to more imports: Last fall, the U.S. imported about 700,000 barrels per day from Russia, even though that amounts to about 8% percent of total oil imports, U.S. officials said. But Europe imports 4.5 million barrels per day from Russia, about one-third of its all imports.
Despite the low flow of oil from Russia, Biden blamed the war for rising prices. “Putin’s war is already hurting Americans at the pump,” Biden said.
On Monday, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. hit an all-time high of $4.104, surpassing the previous record of $4.103 set in 2008, according to data from GasBuddy.
“Americans have never seen gasoline prices this high, nor have we seen the pace of increases so fast and furious,” GasBuddy head of petroleum analysis Patrick De Haan said. “That combination makes this situation all the more remarkable and intense, with crippling sanctions on Russia curbing their flow of oil, leading to the massive spike in the price of all fuels: gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and more.”
“It’s a dire situation and won’t improve any time soon,” De Haan added. “The high prices are likely to stick around for not days or weeks, like they did in 2008, but months. GasBuddy now expects the yearly national average to rise to its highest ever recorded.”
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.