US and Europe discuss plans to ban Russian oil imports, Blinken says

The US Secretary of State said there were a series of additional measures that the US was looking at to increase pressure on Russia

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Europe to co-ordinate with allies against Russia's military offensive in Ukraine. AP

The US and European partners are exploring a ban on Russian oil imports, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday, but he stressed the importance of maintaining steady oil supplies around the world.

"We are now in very active discussions with our European partners about banning the import of Russian oil to our countries, while of course, at the same time, maintaining a steady global supply of oil," Mr Blinken said in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press show.

Mr Blinken, who is on a trip across Europe to co-ordinate with allies against Russia's military offensive in Ukraine, added that he discussed oil imports with President Joe Biden and his Cabinet on Saturday.

Mr Blinken's comments came as oil prices have soared over the past week after the US and its allies sanctioned Russia following its military offensive.

The White House put sanctions on exports of technologies to Russia's refineries and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which has never been used. So far, it has stopped short of going after Russia's oil and gas exports as the Biden administration weighs the effects on global oil markets and US energy prices.

Asked if the US has ruled out banning Russian oil imports unilaterally, Mr Blinken 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 co-ordinating with allies and partners."

Americans are by far the world's heaviest consumers of petrol, thanks to big cars, long driving distances and little public transport in many areas. Rising prices have traditionally been political poison for US leaders.

US petrol prices surged to the highest level since 2008 on Sunday, as the Biden administration works with allies to halt Russia oil and gas exports.

The national average for a gallon hit $4.009 on Sunday, according to AAA, which is the highest since July 2008. Consumers are paying 40 cents more than a week ago, and 57 cents more than a month ago.

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

Mr Blinken said there were a series of additional measures that the US was looking at to increase the pressure on Russia, but he did not provide any details on what they would be.

Updated: March 06, 2022, 5:48 PM
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