Biden says U.S. will ban Russian oil imports in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine
- President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. will ban imports of Russian oil, a major escalation in the international response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
- The move came as Western-allied nations work to sever Russia from the global economy and punish Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- The United Kingdom also announced its own plans to phase out its reliance on Russian oil imports by the end of the year. The European Union earlier that morning unveiled a plan to wean itself off of Russian fossil fuels.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced that the U.S. will ban imports of Russian oil, a major escalation in the international response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The move came as Western-allied nations work to sever Moscow from the global economy to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his unprovoked aggression.
“This is a step we’re taking to inflict further pain on Putin,” Biden said.
“We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a press release announcing the plan.
The U.S. imported about 672,000 barrels a day from Russia in 2021, according to figures from the Energy Information Administration. That amount comprises roughly 8% of the total U.S. imports of oil and refined products.
The news of the ban, confirmed to CNBC by two people familiar with the matter prior to Biden’s speech, sent oil markets soaring Tuesday morning.
The price on West Texas Intermediate crude futures, contracts for April oil deliveries, hit $129.44 a barrel. That level is just below a recent high of $130.50 a barrel hit on March 7, which at the time was the highest price on oil futures since 2008.
Putin’s actions have provoked an unprecedented international reaction, as dozens of countries slap crippling sanctions on the Kremlin, its ultra-rich oligarchs and even Putin himself. Russia’s currency has plummeted in value and its stock market has closed, while a growing list of companies have pulled their business out of the country.
That includes businesses such as Shell, which vowed to immediately stop all purchases of Russian crude and shutter its service stations in the country.
In the U.S., Biden has faced calls to target Russian oil, the nation’s main export. But with gas prices soaring on fears of supply shortages stemming from Russia’s war, the U.S. president has so far resisted those calls.
U.S. gas prices touched all-time highs following news of the ban on Russian oil imports. The national average for a gallon of regular gas rose to a record $4.173 on Tuesday, according to AAA. The prior record was $4.114 from July 2008, not adjusted for inflation.
In Tuesday’s speech, Biden acknowledged that the new ban will make prices worse. “With this action, it’s going to go up further,” he said, warning companies against exploiting the situation by hiking prices.
“Russia’s aggression has cost us all, and it’s no time for profiteering or price gouging,” the president said.