US President Joe Biden has 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 segregate Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The United Kingdom also announced its own plans to reduce its reliance on Russian oil imports by the end of the 2022.
“Today I am announcing the United States is targeting the main artery of Russia’s economy. We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy,” Biden said at 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.”
“This is a step we’re taking to inflict further pain on Putin,” Biden said.
The European Union earlier Tuesday morning unveiled a plan to wean itself off of Russian fossil fuels.
“We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a press release.
The White House said Biden will sign an executive order banning Russian oil, liquefied natural gas and coal imports to the U.S.
The ban on new Russian oil contracts “is immediate,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters later Tuesday. In Russia, oil is it’s main export and number one source of revenue.
No new contracts will be allowed, and existing contracts for Russian oil must be removed within 45 days, the official said.
In 2021, the U.S. imported about 672,000 barrels a day from Russia , despite the US being self sufficient in oil, according to figures from the Energy Information Administration.
That amount makes up roughly 8% of the total U.S. imports of oil and refined products.
Most of the US’ crude oil and petroleum imports come from Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia, making the U.S. far less dependent on Russian oil unlike Germany, Italy, Hungary, the UK and other European countries.
The news of the ban, sent oil prices soaring on Tuesday.
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 Monday, which at the time was the highest price on oil since 2008.
Since Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, Russia has faced unprecedented international reaction, as dozens of countries slap sanctions on the Kremlin, its ultra-rich oligarchs and even Putin himself.
Also, Russia’s currency has plummeted in value and its stock market has been closed since severe sanctions were announced by the West..
Russia wants a change of leadership in Ukraine, wants recognition of Luhansk and Donetsk occupied regions by Ukraine and wants the country not to join Transatlantic military alliance, NATO.