According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the US and its European allies are considering blocking importing of Russian oil, and the White House is working with critical Congressional committees on imposing a ban of their own.
European countries are significantly dependent on Russia for their supply of crude oil and natural gas. However, over the past 24 hours, a person involved with the talks told Reuters that Europe has grown more receptive to the concept of blocking Russian products.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said in a Sunday letter that the house is “exploring” legislation to prohibit Russian oil imports and that Congress plans to pass $10 billion in aid for Ukraine this week in reaction to Moscow’s military assault of its neighbor.
According to the source, the White House is also discussing a potential ban with the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.
Nonetheless, Blinken emphasized the significance of maintaining a stable oil supply across the world.
“We are now in very active discussions with our European partners about banning the import of Russian oil to our countries, while of course, at the same time, maintaining a steady global supply of oil,” Blinken said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” show.
On Saturday, Blinken said he addressed oil imports with President Joe Biden and his cabinet while on a tour across Europe to coordinate with allies the reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to Kyodo News, Japan, which counts Russia as its fifth-largest crude oil supplier, is in talks with the US and European countries about possibly blocking Russian oil imports.
At a routine press conference on Monday, Japan’s senior government spokesperson, Hirokazu Matsuno, was asked about a possible restriction on Russian oil imports, but he declined to comment.
Oil prices have risen dramatically in the last week as a result of sanctions imposed by the US and its allies on Russia as a result of the invasion.
On Thursday, a bipartisan group of senators filed legislation prohibiting the import of Russian oil into the United States. The bill is being rushed through Congress, and it may end up becoming the vehicle for the penalties.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US imposed sanctions on technology exports to Russian refineries and the Nord Stream 2 gas project, which was never completed.
As the Biden administration considers the effects on global oil markets and U.S. energy prices, it has so far refrained from attacking Russia’s oil and gas exports.
“I’m not going to rule out taking action one way or another, irrespective of what they do, but everything we’ve done, the approach starts with coordinating with allies and partners,” Blinken said when asked if the United States has ruled out banning Russian oil imports unilaterally.
He stated that the US was considering a number of other steps to put pressure on Russia, but he did not elaborate on what the new actions might include.
Due to large automobiles, extensive driving distances, and limited public transit in many locations, Americans are by far the world’s largest consumers of fuel. Historically, rising gas costs have been political poison for US administrations.
According to AAA, the national average cost of a gallon of gasoline in the United States touched $4.009 on Sunday, the highest level since July 2008. Consumers are spending 40 cents more on average than they were a week ago, and 57 cents more than they were a month ago.
According to the Energy Information Administration, the United States purchased more than 20.4 million barrels of crude and refined products per month on average from Russia in 2021, accounting for nearly 8% of total liquid fuel imports (EIA).
(Adapted from CNBC.com)