President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. will target “the main artery of Russia’s economy” by banning the import of Russian energy products.
“We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy,” Biden said in remarks from the White House. “That means 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.”
The president warned that the move would probably increase gas prices in the U.S., but that it was necessary to ramp up sanctions pressure on Russia’s economy for its war on Ukraine.
“Putin’s war is already hurting American families at the gas pump,” Biden said. “I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home.”
Biden’s language clearly anticipated a concerted Republican effort to blame him directly for the rise in gas prices, which hit a record in the U.S. on Tuesday. With gas prices certain to become a huge political issue in this year’s midterm elections, Biden devoted much of his remarks to focusing American anger directly on Putin, while also encouraging U.S. energy companies to produce more domestic oil.
The president said the U.S. had made the decision to ban Russian energy products “in close consultation” with allies around the world, particularly in Europe. He said many of those partners may not be able to take the same action.
“The United States produces far more oil domestically than all of Europe,” said Biden, who said the U.S. is a net exporter of energy. “We can take this step when others cannot, but we’re working closely with Europe and our partners to develop a long-term strategy to reduce their dependence on Russian energy as well.”
Afterward, Biden signed an executive order to ban the import of Russian oil, liquified natural gas and coal to the U.S., a senior administration official said. The order blocks any new purchases of those energy products and winds down the deliveries of existing purchases that have already been contracted for. The White House said the action also bans new U.S. investment in Russia’s energy sector and prohibits Americans from participating in foreign investments that flow into that sector in Russia.