The United States is banning all oil and gas imports from Russia, U.S. President Joe Biden announced, in an effort to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine.
Speaking at the White House on Tuesday morning, Biden said the decision was aimed at “the main artery of the Russian economy.”
“We are banning all imports of Russian oil, gas and energy. This means that Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” he told reporters.
Ukrainian advocates and leaders have called on the U.S. and its European allies to sanction Russia’s oil and gas sector in response to the country’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which devastated major cities and forced two million people to flee the country.
Western countries, particularly European countries that rely on Russian oil and gas for much of their energy needs, have been hesitant, fearing that a ban would cut them off from much-needed supplies and send prices soaring.
The U.S. is not heavily dependent on Russia for energy supplies, importing an average of 209,000 barrels of crude oil per day in 2021 — or 3% of the country’s total crude imports, according to the U.S. Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Association (AFPM). .
Europe is more dependent on Russian energy supplies, with about 35% of the European Union’s natural gas coming from Russia.
Biden acknowledged as much Tuesday, saying the U.S. understands that many of its European allies “may not be able” to impose a similar ban. “The United States produces far more oil domestically than all the European countries combined,” the U.S. president said.
“We can take this step where others cannot, but we are working closely with Europe and our partners to develop a long-term strategy to also reduce their dependence on Russian energy.”
On Monday, a senior Russian official said there would be “catastrophic” fallout from a Western ban on Russian oil imports. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said the move could more than double the price of oil to around $300 a barrel.
But calls have been growing to hit Russia’s profitable oil and gas sector in an effort to stop the bloodshed in Ukraine.
On Tuesday, the European Commission said the war “demonstrates the urgency of accelerating our transition to clean energy,” announcing plans to increase the EU’s energy independence while reducing its dependence on Russian supplies.