White House dubs rising gas prices a ‘Putin spike’
The White House is seeking to pin the blame for high gas prices in the United States on a new target: Russian President Vladimir Putin.
President Biden and White House officials this week have increasingly argued that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is the cause of higher prices at the pump, an argument they reiterated after the administration on Tuesday banned imports of Russian oil.
“The decision today is not without cost here at home. Putin’s war is already hurting American families at the gas pump,” Biden said when announcing the ban, vowing to take steps to “minimize Putin’s price hike here at home.”
Hours later, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force one that Americans were facing a spike in gas prices “because of the actions of President Putin.”
“This is a Putin spike at the gas pump, not one prompted by our sanctions,” she said.
Psaki said gas prices have increased across the United States by an average of 75 cents since earlier this year when Russian military forces lined up at the Ukrainian border, and those prices have only surged in the nearly three weeks since Russia launched its invasion.
The average price of a gallon of regular gas hit $4.17 on Tuesday, according to an AAA tracker, which marked a new record high. The price has surged by roughly 50 cents in the last week alone, according to AAA.
Republicans have had a field day attacking the White House over gas prices, blaming Biden’s energy policies for the increase.
White House officials are warning prices may only go higher with the decision to bar Russian oil imports into the United States. While Europe relies more heavily on Russian energy, the U.S. also imported about 600,000 to 800,000 barrels from Russia daily prior to the invasion of Ukraine.
Psaki would not predict how high gas prices could go in the coming weeks, but she pointed to steps like releasing oil from the strategic petroleum reserve and working with other energy suppliers to ensure the disruption to global supply is minimal.
A day earlier, when a reporter noted gas prices were on the rise prior to the Russian invasion, Psaki argued the anticipation of a Russian invasion was factored into increasing prices in gasoline over the past few months.
The average price of a gallon of gas was $3.33 in mid-January, according to AAA.