US President Joe Biden has signed an executive order banning imports of Russian energy, a move matched by UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss soon after – both aiming to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
During a Tuesday press briefing, Biden said his new executive decree will ban all imports of Russian oil, liquefied natural gas and coal to the US, arguing the measure will “deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine” following several rounds of previous sanctions. Though the restrictions will be phased in gradually, the order also bars Americans from investing in any projects that benefit Russian energy interests going forward.
Initially, all new contracts for Russian energy will be prohibited, however fossil fuels from the country will be still allowed into the US as active contracts come to fruition in the coming months.
The announcement comes amid rapidly climbing gas prices since Biden took office last year, with the US national average price at the pump now exploding to record levels. Though the price hike began ahead of the latest bout of hostilities over Ukraine, the White House has placed exclusive blame on the Russian president for the increasingly odious fuel costs.
“The reality is Putin’s unprovoked and brutal war has led to higher energy prices and raised costs for Americans at home – about 75 cents at the gas pump – since Putin began to amass troops at the Ukrainian border in early November,” a senior administration official told reporters during a press call, adding “the reason energy prices are rising right now is because of Putin’s choices.”
In 2021, the US imported 199,000 barrels of Russian crude oil per day. Even before Biden’s import ban, the volume declined to just 57,000 barrels per day in the first two months of 2022, a sharp drop. Meanwhile, the UK is currently importing eight percent of its oil from Russia, the world’s second-largest petroleum exporter.
Much like with the American plan, London will continue to allow Russian energy for some time, but will look to phase it out entirely by the end of the year.
Putin is also looking to keep some Russian goods out of international markets, claiming the move is needed to “ensure the Russian Federation’s financial stability.” The Kremlin announced a new order on Tuesday imposing restrictions on raw material imports and exports from Russia, noting the government will have two days to “compile lists of foreign states subject to the measures.” It remains unclear exactly which products will be covered under the ban, however.