President Joe Biden acknowledged that the move — seen as his administration's most far-reaching action yet to punish Moscow's invasion of Ukraine — will bring costs to Americans, particularly at the gas pump.

Biden has also cautioned the US energy industry against “excessive price increases” and exploiting consumers.
Biden has also cautioned the US energy industry against “excessive price increases” and exploiting consumers. (Reuters)

US President Joe Biden has banned Russian oil and other energy imports, mounting pressure on Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine.

"That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at US ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to (President Vladimir) Putin," Biden said at the White House on Tuesday.

Biden acknowledged that the move — seen as his administration's most far-reaching action yet to punish Moscow's invasion — will bring costs to Americans, particularly at the gas pump.

Biden said the decision was taken in "close consultation" with allies, and added that both Democrats and Republicans backed the move. 

"We're moving forward with this ban, understanding that many of our European allies and partners may not be in a position to join us," he said. 

European nations have said they plan to reduce their reliance on Russia for their energy needs, but filling the void without crippling their economies will likely take some time.

Unlike the US, which is a major oil and gas producer, Europe relies on imports for 90 percent of its gas and 97 percent of its oil products. Russia supplies 40 percent of Europe’s gas and a quarter of its oil. 

The US does not import Russian natural gas.

READ MORE: Noose tightens around Russian oligarchs close to Putin

Ban on new US energy investment in Russia

The White House said later Biden's executive order also banned new US investments in Russia’s energy sector.

Biden warned Americans that "defending freedom is going to cost" and declared that “we will not be part of subsidising Putin’s war”. 

Inflation is at a 40-year peak, fuelled in large part by gas prices, and that could hurt Biden heading into the November midterm elections.

Gas prices have been rising for weeks due to the conflict and in anticipation of potential sanctions on the Russian energy sector.

The price of Brent crude, the international benchmark, soared by more than five percent leading up to Biden's speech. The price of a barrel reached $129.92 at 1430 GMT, an increase of 5.45 percent.

Biden said it was understandable that prices were rising, but cautioned the US energy industry against “excessive price increases” and exploiting consumers.

Tuesday's decision followed pleas by Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelenskyy to Western officials to cut off the oil imports, which had been a glaring omission in the massive sanctions imposed on Russia.

Energy exports have kept a steady influx of cash flowing to Russia despite otherwise severe restrictions on its financial sector. 

Two weeks ago, Biden had explained his reluctance to impose energy sanctions, saying he was trying “to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump”.

The US imported over 20.4 million barrels of crude and refined products a month on average from Russia in 2021, about 8 percent of US liquid fuel imports, according to the Energy Information Administration.

READ MORE: Russia becomes world's 'most sanctioned' country amid Ukraine war

Source: TRTWorld and agencies