US President Joe Biden has announced a ban on Russian oil and other energy imports in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine, underscoring strong bipartisan support for a move he acknowledged would drive up US energy prices.
“We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas energy,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
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“That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable in US ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war machine.”
The announcement saw crude oil prices jump 5.4 per cent to $129.91 a barrel.
Biden has been working with allies in Europe, who are far more dependent on Russian oil, to isolate Russia’s energy-heavy economy and Putin. Britain announced shortly before Biden’s remarks that it would phase out the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022.
Biden said sanctions imposed by the US and its allies had already caused the Russian economy to “crater”. He said the latest moves had been made in close consultation with allies and partners around the world.
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According to Reuters, the US imported more than 20.4 million barrels of crude and refined products a month on average from Russia in 2021, about 8 per cent of US liquid fuel imports, according to the Energy Information Administration, and the ban is expected to send already high gasoline prices and inflation soaring. The United States also imports a negligible amount of coal from Russia.
Biden predicted prices would rise further as a result of “Putin’s war,” but pledged to do all he could to minimise the impact on the American people. He also warned US gas companies against exploiting the situation to engage in profiteering or price gouging.