The Joe Biden Administration has decided to prohibit the importation of Russian oil into the United States, according to sources close to the Government quoted by the local press. This decision represents a momentous step forward in the sanctions strategy that the West has adopted for the invasion of Ukraine. Washington adopts this measure alone, since the European allies have for the moment rejected a punishment that also entails significant damage to their own economies, much more dependent than the United States on Russian crude.
The United States has been evaluating the embargo for days, a lethal blow to the economy of the Eurasian giant. Congress has pressured the Government in that direction, with a bipartite bill that was scheduled to be put to the vote this week. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that “no decision” had yet been made and admitted that the implications on both sides of the Atlantic are not the same.
“Russian imports account for about a third of all oil imports from Europe,” he noted. “In 2021, before the invasion, the United States imported about 700,000 barrels a day and the Europeans about 4.5 million barrels a day, so we are well aware that the implications would be very different for one and the other,” he stressed. .
The White House plans to announce the measure on Tuesday, advanced first by the Bloomberg agency, with an appearance by Biden at 10:45 in the morning (local time). The market has been buzzing about this possibility for days now. On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained in a television interview that the United States was discussing “intensely” with European partners on this matter, although Germany made it clear on Monday that it did not intend to veto the oil. Even so, the price of gas and black gold went haywire.
This Tuesday, from Tallinn, Blinken has summoned European countries to gain energy autonomy from Russia. “It is imperative that there is finally a movement to reduce that dependency,” stressed the head of US diplomacy.
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For the United States, which is experiencing the worst rise in inflation in 40 years, the measure is not innocuous, since this Russian crude still represents 10% of imports and the global repercussions also take their toll on the prospects of companies. The selective S&P index of the New York Stock Exchange fell 3% on Monday, the worst drop since October 2020, weighed down by the prospects of an embargo.
Even so, Biden had been feeling pressure from Republican and Democratic lawmakers for weeks to adopt a measure that hits the heart of Russia’s economy, which has put Europe in a crisis unprecedented since World War II.