Joe Biden bans US imports of Russian oil and gas amid the invasion in Ukraine

The United States is banning all imports of oil and gas from Russia, US President Joe Biden has announced, in a move that aims to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine.

Speaking at the White House on Tuesday morning, Biden said the move targets “the main artery of Russia’s economy”.

“We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy. That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at US ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” he told reporters.

Rights advocates and Ukrainian leaders have called on the US and its European allies to sanction Russia’s oil-and-gas sector in response to the country’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Western countries, especially European nations that rely on Russian oil and gas for a large share of their energy needs, have hesitated amid fears a ban would cut them off from much-needed supplies and send prices skyrocketing.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Biden for “striking in the heart of Putin’s war machine” by imposing the ban. “Encourage other countries and leaders to follow,” Zelenskyy tweeted on Tuesday afternoon.

The US is not highly dependent on Russia for its energy supplies, importing an average of 209,000 barrels per day of crude oil in 2021 or about 3% of of the country’s total crude imports, according to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) trade association.

Europe has a larger dependence on Russian energy supplies, with about 35 percent of natural gas in the European Union coming from Russia.

Biden acknowledged that on Tuesday, saying the US understands that many of its European allies “may not be in a position” to impose a similar ban. “The United States produces far more oil domestically than all the European countries combined,” the US president said.

“We can take this step when others cannot, but we’re working closely with Europe and our partners to develop a long-term strategy to reduce their dependence on Russian energy, as well.”