A U.S. or full-on Western energy ban on Russian oil and gas is now one step closer to fruition, as Democrats and Republicans reach a bipartisan deal that would pave the way for the legislation.
The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have now agreed to pass legislation to ban the import of energy products from Russia. U.S. President Joe Biden must now sign it into law, and it remains unclear if he will.
Additionally, the deal would suspend normal U.S. trade relations with both Russia and Belarus. That would grant the U.S. president the authority to increase tariffs on goods from Russia and Belarus, as well as to impose various trade barriers, and call for Russia to be stricken from the World Trade Organization.
Moscow’s war chest, decimated by sanctions, can still be replenished by soaring oil and gas prices from which Russia benefits.
Both the United States and Europe have so far been reluctant to slap sanctions on the energy sector specifically, which would result in even higher oil and gas prices, but earlier today, reports emerged that the U.S. would consider going solo on a ban.
At a press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said no decision had yet been made, but that Biden would “do everything he can to reduce the impact on the American people, including the price of gas at the tank”.
Prices at the pump in the United States have hit an average of over $4 per gallon.
The bipartisan deal comes shortly after Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced Russia’s conditions for halting the invasion of Ukraine. Those conditions include Kyiv renouncing claims on Crimea and territory under pro-Russian separatist control in the Donbas region. Moscow is also demanding that Ukraine lay down all arms and rewrite its constitution to include a commitment to refraining from joining the European Union or NATO.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.