WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports Tuesday, raising the toll on Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine.
“We remain united in our purpose to keep pressure mounted on Putin,” Biden said.
Biden spoke from the White House Tuesday morning to detail “actions to continue to hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine.”
“Russian oil will no longer be accepted at U.S. ports, and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” he said. He says the decision was made in close consultation with U.S. allies and has garnered bipartisan support.
Biden says the U.S. has crippled the way Russia does business and technology.
“One ruble is now worth less than one American penny,” he added.
However, the president said “defending freedom is going to cost,” so in exchange, Americans can expect higher inflation and gas prices.
Biden said the U.S. was acting in close consultation with European allies, who are more dependent on Russian energy supplies and who he acknowledged may not be able to join in immediately. The announcement marked the latest Biden attempt at cutting off Russia from much of the global economy and ensuring that the Ukraine invasion is a strategic loss President Vladimir Putin, even if he manages to seize territory.
“Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin,” Biden said.
The European Union this week will commit to phasing out its reliance on Russia for energy needs as soon as possible, but filling the void without crippling EU economies will likely take some time. The U.K., which is no longer part of the EU, announced Tuesday that oil and oil products from Russia will be phased out by the end of the year.
In addition, the U.S. and international partners have sanctioned Russia’s largest banks, its central bank and finance ministry and moved to block certain financial institutions from the SWIFT messaging system for international payments.
The move follows pleas by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to U.S. and Western officials to cut off the imports, which had been a glaring omission among the massive sanctions put in place on Russia over the invasion. Energy exports have kept a steady influx of cash flowing to Russia despite otherwise severe restrictions on its financial sector.
Before the invasion, Russian oil and gas made up more than a third of government revenues. Global energy prices have surged after the invasion and have continued to rise despite coordinated releases of strategic reserves, making Russian exports even more lucrative.
Prices at the pump were rising long before Russia invaded Ukraine and have spiraled faster since the start of the war. The U.S. national average for a gallon of gasoline has soared 45 cents in the past week and topped $4.18 on Tuesday, according to auto club AAA.
Biden said it was understandable that prices were rising, but cautioned the U.S. energy industry against “excessive price increases” and exploiting consumers.