Biden, in a reversal of position, announced today that he has decided to ban Russian petroleum products from entering the U.S. market. This was a bit stunning. It was, after all, just last week that White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told the press that the administration had no strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy and, thereby, raising gas prices for Americans.
My how things change in a week. Apparently, Biden now hopes this move to ban Russian oil will choke off further funds to Russia’s “war machine”. Biden has suggested that this ban was made in close consultation with “our allies and our partners around the world, particularly in Europe”, as per Andrew Feinberg from Independent.co.uk. Biden also believes such a move has strong bipartisan support here at home.
While claiming support from US allies, Biden did acknowledge that some countries, especially European ones, rely too heavily on Russian oil and will simply not be able to participate in the ban. Here is a chart indicating the amount of Russian oil each country appears to use:
Biden suggests that he had discussions with certain countries about trying to “wean themselves” off of Russian oil, but he has come to the understanding that such action may just not work. Per Feinberg, Biden noted that the “robust US energy sector” which he said “produces far more oil domestically than all of Europe”, enables America to cut off the Russian imported oil.
Interestingly, Feinberg also noted that a senior administration official told The Independent News that Biden had not specifically asked European allies to join the ban. [So, he consulted with them, encouraged them, but did not ask them…?] Apparently though, per Slate.com, the U.S. is not completely alone in its action here. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson did also state this week that the UK would phase out oil imports from Russia by the end of this year, though not natural gas or coal. But, besides Boris, its seems most of Europe has decided to “sit this round of sanctions out”. That fact alone really takes the wind out of the sails on this one, as Europe is a MUCH more important oil customer to Russia than is America.
It is also worth mentioning that Biden’s ban has lost even further luster by the simple fact that many Western companies were already shunning Russian oil, after concluding it wasn’t worth the legal and publicity risk, according to slate.com.
One person who was definitely on board with this, per Feinberg, is Ukrainian president Zelensky . He believes a U.S. led embargo on Russian Oil exports will bring Putin’s military actions against Ukraine to a halt. That remains to be seen. Zelensky did admit that such a step will be “costly for everyone”. That does not remain to be seen. It seems quite clear that it will be costly for Americans, as Biden himself acknowledges.
Interestingly, Biden had been already blaming Putin for the increased cost of gas, beginning the minute Putin took action in Ukraine. The blame seemed disingenuous at that point, considering gas prices have been going up ever since Biden took office and closed our Keystone XL pipeline. And, if our energy sector is as healthy as Biden says, why would stopping the small amount of oil we purchase from Russia further enhance our gas prices? Something seems wrong with this picture.
As to the mechanics of the action, a senior official told Feinberg that Biden will sign an executive order to “block any new purchases of Russian crude oil and certain petroleum products, liquefied natural gas & coal”. The order will also apparently “wind down” the deliveries of existing purchases that have already been contracted for over a 45 day period. It will additionally ban new US investment in Russia’s energy sector.
And, of course Biden is already using this action to promote the need to “accelerate the transition to clean energy”. Per Feinberg, Biden thinks its a great idea to transform our economy to run on electric vehicles, so that “no one has to worry about the price of gas pump in the future”. He believes people like Putin will then not be able to use fossil fuels as weapons against other nations. No, perhaps fossil fuel won’t be such a weapon if we transfer to electric vehicles, but the cost of fuel will seem rather small when you compare it to the cost of procuring an electric vehicle. [And, just as random questions: who will hold the weapon of the power grid in their hands at the next point? Oh, and where will we be getting all the energy to build, power, and charge all the components, including the batteries, for all of the wonderful new electric vehicles…? Just curious.]
I thought it might be appropriate to give President Trump the last word about this situation. His exact quote, from his Telegram account, is: “Just confirmed that most of Europe won’t go along with the United States in boycotting Russian oil and gas. As usual the United States will be left out there alone, being taken advantage of by Europe , as we defend them, while we read in the Fake New how everyone has come together under Biden to fight Russia”.