President Biden on Tuesday announced that the United States will immediately ban imports of Russian oil, natural gas and coal in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military invasion of Ukraine.
“The American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” he said in remarks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House. “Americans have rallied to support the Ukrainian people and made it clear we will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war.”
The move is the latest attempt by the U.S. to punish Putin for what Biden has called his “unprovoked and unjustified” military assault on Ukraine, which has now entered its 12th day.
“This is a step we are taking to inflict further pain on Putin,” the president continued. “But there will be costs here in the United States.”
The Biden administration had been facing mounting pressure to impose a ban on imports of Russian fuel in addition to the sanctions it has already levied against the Kremlin.
The president had been reluctant to impose such a ban amid soaring consumer gas prices. “I will do everything in my power to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump,” he said on Feb. 24 at the outset of Russia’s invasion. “This is critical to me.”
The average price of gas recently topped $4 a gallon for the first time since 2008.
But a recent poll by Quinnipiac University found that more than 70 percent of Americans would support a U.S. ban on Russian oil over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, even if it leads to higher gas prices. Just 22 percent of those surveyed were opposed.
The United States is imposing the ban without most of its European allies, which are more dependent on Russian energy supplies. According to the New York Times, the U.S. imports about 700,000 barrels per day from Russia, or less than 10 percent of its total oil imports. By contrast, Europe imports about 4.5 million barrels per day from Russia, or roughly one-third of its total imports.
Russia is the world’s third-largest oil producer, behind the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
The United Kingdom said Tuesday it will phase out its Russian oil imports by the end of 2022. Like the U.S., the U.K. gets less than 10 percent of its energy from Russia.
The Russian onslaught in Ukraine has trapped people inside cities that are running low on food, water and medicine amid the biggest ground war in Europe since World War II. The United Nations on Tuesday said the exodus of refugees from Ukraine has topped 2 million.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has confirmed 474 civilian deaths in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began but has also cautioned that the actual number of casualties is likely much higher.