Biden announces ban on Russian energy imports
President Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. will ban Russian oil, natural gas and coal imports as part of his administration’s response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The United States is targeting the main artery of Russia’s economy. We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy,” Biden said in remarks from the Roosevelt Room on Tuesday morning.
“That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports and the American people will deal another blow to Putin’s war machine,” he added.
Biden signed an executive order banning Russian energy imports as well as new U.S. investment in Russia’s energy sector, the White House said in a fact sheet. The order will also prohibit Americans from “financing or enabling” foreign companies investing in Russian energy production, the White House said.
A source familiar with the plans confirmed to The Hill that Biden intended to announce the ban, which was first reported by Bloomberg, ahead of his remarks Tuesday.
The White House had been reticent to ban the imports as gas prices have soared, but there have been growing calls from members of both parties to ban Russian oil as punishment for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
As calls from members of both parties to ban the imports grew, lawmakers introduced legislation last week banning U.S. imports of Russian oil and the measures gained bipartisan support.
And members of both parties have been pushing in recent days for energy policies they support, as Republicans have called for more U.S. drilling while Democrats have promoted more clean energy.
Biden, in his remarks on Tuesday, noted that the effort could increase costs in the U.S.
“This is a step that we’re taking to inflict further pain on Putin, but there will be costs as well here in the United States,” he said, noting that he would take steps to minimize the impact.
He reiterated previous remarks that such actions were part of the cost of defending freedom.
“I said I would level with the American people from the beginning, and when I first spoke to this I said defending freedom’s going to … cost us as well,” he said.
“Republicans and Democrats alike understand that. Republicans and Democrats alike have been clear that we must do this,” Biden added.
Polls have indicated the move has broad support. A Quinnipiac University poll out Monday found that 71 percent of Americans support a ban on Russian oil even if it meant there would be higher gas prices in the U.S.
The administration has been cognizant of the potential domestic impact as it has weighed such a move. U.S. gas prices are already approaching record highs and Republicans have sought to attack Biden over the rising prices of gasoline and other goods.
A senior administration official told reporters that the ban on new purchases of Russian energy would take effect immediately, but there will be a 45 day “wind down” period under which purchases that have already been made can be delivered.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky applauded Biden for “striking in the heart of Putin’s war machine and banning oil, gas and coal from U.S. market” and urged other countries to follow suit.
Tuesday’s action was not timed with identical moves by European countries, which are much more reliant on Russian energy than the U.S.
Still, the European Union on Tuesday did propose a plan to eliminate European reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2030 given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The European Commission said in a statement the proposal could reduce the EU demand for Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of 2022.
“We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. “We need to act now to mitigate the impact of rising energy prices, diversify our gas supply for next winter and accelerate the clean energy transition.”
The United Kingdom also said it would work to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of the year.
“We remain united in our purpose to keep pressure mounting on Putin and his war machine,” Biden said in his announcement.
The White House has continued to put an emphasis on coordinating with European partners in its sanctions on Russia. Biden held a secure call with the leaders of France, the United Kingdom and Germany on Monday during which Russian energy was discussed.
Russian oil makes up a relatively small percentage of U.S. oil imports, which mostly come from Canada.
As of last year, the U.S. was importing nearly 700,000 barrels per day of oil from Russia, while it consumes about 20 million barrels daily.
Energy is a large part of the Russian economy. It makes up more than half of the country’s exports and was the U.S.’s greatest import from that country.
Biden’s announcement was the latest action taken by the administration in response to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, which began almost two weeks ago and has escalated as forces have closed in on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
Russia has been targeting civilian areas and faces growing accusations it is committing war crimes in Ukraine. The war has prompted a refugee crisis, with the United Nations saying Tuesday that more than 2 million people have fled Ukraine.
Biden has also sanctioned a growing list of Russian oligarchs and politicians, including Putin and some of his top aides, and Russian banks in coordination with European allies.
Updated at 2:06 p.m.
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