Russian Oil Imports Will Continue in U.S. for Now, No Decision Yet on Ban

The Biden administration has not yet decided whether to ban imports of Russian oil, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a Monday press conference.

Calls have increased recently for the U.S. and other nations to impose a new economic penalty for Russia's invasion of Ukraine by halting oil imports. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called the move the only "moral decision." Earlier Monday, Newsweek reported that the Biden administration has looked into potentially increasing the amount of oil imported from other countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, if Russian oil is banned.

While a ban on Russian oil has gained support in Washington from U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, there are concerns about driving gas prices, already at near-record highs, even higher. The price of oil has shot up since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, and 38 U.S. states have seen an increase of over 50 cents in the average price of gas.

The sudden spike in oil prices has also led some state officials to warn consumers that they should be wary of price gouging and watch for gas stations that have prices significantly higher than others in the area.

Last week, several members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, voiced support for a ban on Russian oil.

In a statement over the weekend, she said, "Let me be clear: the United States need not choose between our democratic values and our economic interests. The administration and the Congress remain laser-focused on bringing down the higher energy costs for American families and our partners stemming from Putin's invasion."

Last week, Senators Joe Manchin and Lisa Murkowski announced plans to introduce a bill that would ban Russian oil products from coming into the U.S. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden said last week that "nothing is off the table" when it comes to sanctioning Russia.

Last week it was announced that the U.S. and several other countries would release 60 million barrels of oil from global reserves to help reduce prices.

"We don't have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy," White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters last Wednesday. "That would raise prices at the gas pump for Americans and pad Putin's profits, right? So that's something that we're very aware of."

A poll released Monday shows that a significant majority of Americans, 71 percent, would support a ban on Russian oil, even if it means higher prices at the gas pump, while 22 percent oppose a ban.

Update 03/07/22, 4:44 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information and context.

Joe Biden Russian Oil Import
President Joe Biden and the White House have not yet made a decision on whether to ban imports of Russian oil, WH press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. Above, Biden speaks while meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in the Oval Office of the White House Friday in Washington, DC. Pete Marovich/Getty Images