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Russia Ukraine conflict

US prepared to move alone in banning Russian oil imports: Reuters

Published: Updated:

The Biden administration is willing to move ahead with a ban on Russian oil imports into the US without the participation of allies in Europe, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

President Joe Biden is expected to hold a video conference call with the leaders of France, Germany and the UK on Monday as his administration continues to seek their support for a ban on the imports.

The White House is also negotiating with congressional leaders who are working on fast-tracking legislation banning Russian imports, a move that is forcing the administration to work on an expedited timeline, a source told Reuters A senior US official told Reuters that no final decision has been made but “it is likely just the US if it happens.”

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Oil prices have soared to their highest levels since 2008 due to delays in the potential return of Iranian crude to global markets and as the US and European allies consider banning Russian imports.

Europe relies on Russia for crude oil and natural gas but has become more open to the idea of banning Russian products. The US relies far less on Russian crude and products, but a ban would help drive prices up and pinch US consumers already seeing historic prices at the gas pump.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a Sunday letter that her chamber is “exploring” legislation to ban the import of Russian oil and that Congress intends to enact this week $10 billion in aid for Ukraine in response to Moscow's military invasion of its neighbor.

A bipartisan group of US senators introduced a bill on Thursday to ban US imports of Russian oil. The bill is getting fast-tracked.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, the White House slapped sanctions on exports of technologies to Russia's refineries and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which has never launched.

So far, it has stopped short of targeting Russia's oil and gas exports as the Biden administration weighs the impacts on global oil markets and US energy prices.

Asked if the US has ruled out banning Russian oil imports unilaterally, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Sunday said: “I'm not going to rule out taking action one way or another, irrespective of what they do, but everything we've done, the approach starts with coordinating with allies and partners,” Blinken said.

At the same time, the White House did not deny that Biden might make a trip to Saudi Arabia as the US seeks to get Riyadh to increase energy production. Axios reported that such a trip was a possibility.

“This is premature speculation and no trip is planned,” a White House official said.

Read more:

Oil hits 2008 highs to $139 on talks about Russia oil ban, Iran deal delay

Fears about sanctions on Russia push European gas prices to record highs

US, Europe mulling bans on Russian oil imports, Blinken says

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