U.S. President Biden will unilaterally impose a ban on importing Russian oil Tuesday in an effort to ramp up the economic pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine, a person familiar with the issue told The Washington Times.
The embargo, which is expected to cause already record-high gasoline prices to soar even higher, will come in the wake of mounting bipartisan pressure on Capitol Hill that forced the White House to reverse its position on the ban over concerns about increased costs.
The White House declined to comment. Updated press guidance stated that Mr. Biden “will announce actions to continue to hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine” Tuesday morning.
The move marks a reversal in policy for the Biden administration, which had resisted bipartisan calls to escalate punishments against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
As momentum for a ban has grown on Capitol Hill, the White House has felt increasing pressure to ban Russian oil.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday appeared to signal that a Russian oil ban could be coming.
Ms. Psaki told reporters that “no decision has been made at this point,” but also acknowledged internal discussions with European countries about the ban. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly preparing his own plan to cut Britain’s dependence on Russian energy Tuesday.
According to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Russia in 2021 represented just 3% of total U.S. crude oil imports and just 1% of the total crude oil produced by U.S. refineries. Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia accounted for more than three-fourths of U.S. crude oil imports.
Russian oil and natural gas exports constitute a much larger share of the total energy mix for a number of key Western European markets.
Administration officials have argued that a Russian oil ban would reduce supply and raise prices at the gas pump for Americans.
The national average price for regular gasoline has topped $4 a gallon for the first time in more than a decade. It’s fast approaching the all-time record high for the national average price of $4.11, which was set on July 17, 2008, according to the AAA automobile owners club.
After briefly reaching nearly $140 a barrel in spot trading earlier this week, the price of the benchmark Brent crude was trading at a still-elevated $132 a barrel in early Tuesday trading.
Republicans welcomed Mr. Biden‘s announcement but urged him to address the supply shortage by boosting U.S. oil production. They said looking to other countries, including Iran and Venezuela, for oil would be a mistake.
“President Biden and the United States need to unleash American energy production and stop funding Putin’s ruthless war chest,” said Sen. Steve Daines, Montana Republican.
Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, said he was “happy” that Mr. Biden imposed the ban, but called on the president to ramp up production in the U.S.
“We can easily replace [Russian oil] by producing 200,000 a day of our own oil. We can easily do that very quickly,” he said.