Biden announces US ban on Russian oil imports over Ukraine conflict
US President Joe Biden has announced a ban on American imports of Russian oil, taking aim at the heart of the Russian economy over the military operation in Ukraine.
"We're banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy. That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at US ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin," Biden said in an address from the White House, adding that the decision was taken "in close consultation" with allies.
The announcement came as Western-allied nations work to cut off Russia from the global economy to punish President Vladimir Putin over the military action in Ukraine.
Biden talked with the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom on Monday to build support for a ban on Russian energy imports.
Britain also said on Tuesday that it will phase out imports of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022.
“In another economic blow to the Putin regime following their illegal invasion of Ukraine, the UK will move away from dependence on Russian oil throughout this year, building on our severe package of international economic sanctions,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.
“We are confident that this can be achieved over the course of the year, providing enough time for companies to adjust and ensuring consumers are protected,” he added.
Washington and Europe were quick to start piling new sanctions on Moscow over the military action in Ukraine that started last month. The bans have pushed oil prices to their highest levels in years.
Benchmark US crude was up 5.4 percent to about $130 a barrel on Tuesday.
Gasoline prices in the United States are pushing even farther above $4.17 a gallon, the highest level since 2008. Prices were on the rise before Russia announced the Ukraine operation and have spiraled faster since the start of the war on February 24.
Biden said sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies had already caused the Russian economy to "crater."
US Senator Chris Coons said the Biden administration was coordinating with European allies "and making sure that we've done the groundwork to understand how to effectively implement a ban on Russian energy."
"We are going to see increased gas prices here in the United States. In Europe, they will see dramatic increases in prices. That's the cost of standing up for freedom and standing alongside the Ukrainian people, but it's going to cost us," Coons told CNN.
Europe is heavily dependent on Russia to meet its growing energy needs and may prove more reluctant to go along with an outright ban, but some European nations have expressed a willingness to reduce their reliance on Russian imports.
Germany, the biggest buyer of Russian crude oil, has ruled out banning energy imports at least for now. Germany is attempting to expand its use of alternative energy sources but cannot halt imports of Russian energy overnight, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday.