President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a ban prohibiting all U.S. sales and imports of Russian oil, to keep up economic pressure on Moscow for its military campaign in Ukraine.
Biden said the move is another step to hold Moscow accountable for an “unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine” that has so far killed and injured thousands of people in the Eastern European Nation.
Biden’s administration has already imposed other crippling sanctions against Russia, as have other Western powers like the European Union and typically neutral Switzerland.
“The American people will deal another powerful blow to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war machine,” he said, noting that the decision to ban Russian oil was made in consultation with U.S. allies, especially in Europe.
“This is a move that has strong bipartisan support in Congress and, I believe, in the country.”
“We will not be subsidizing Putin’s war,” Biden added, referring to revenues Moscow receives on sales of Russian oil.
Biden has faced growing pressure from both Democrats and Republicans to step up economic punishment, including a ban of Russian oil — a move that experts say will likely also be felt in energy prices in the United States.
“This is a step that we’re taking to inflict further pain on Putin, but there will be costs here in the United States, as well,” Biden said. “I said I’d level with the American people in the beginning. When I first spoke to this, I said defending freedom is going to cost. It’s going to cost us, as well.”
Biden said that Russia’s war with Ukraine has been responsible for a large hike in U.S. gas prices recently, and cautioned that banning Russian oil will probably make them rise even more.
“I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home,” he said, noting the decision to tap 60 million barrels from the global strategic reserve, 30 million of which is from the United States.
Biden cautioned oil and gas companies against making “excessive” price increases and exploiting the fighting in Ukraine for greater profits.
“Russia’s aggression is costing us all,” he said. “And it’s no time for profiteering or price gouging.”
Last weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky encouraged the United States to stop buying Russian oil.
“The United States need not choose between our democratic values and our economic interests,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter on Sunday. “The administration and the Congress remain laser-focused on bringing down the higher energy costs for American families and our partners stemming [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s invasion.”
The invasion of Ukraine is almost in its third week, and Russian forces continue to make advancements throughout the country — but it’s mostly been slow progress as Ukrainian military and civilian forces try to repel the attacks in major cities like Kharkiv and Kherson.
Tuesday, Ukrainian refugees began escaping the country through new humanitarian corridors established by Ukraine-Russia peace negotiations. The United Nations says that 2 million Ukrainians have fled their homeland since the start of the invasion.
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