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WASHINGTON, March 6 (Reuters) – The United States and European partners are exploring banning Russian oil imports, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday, but stressed the importance of maintaining steady oil supplies globally.
“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,” Blinken said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” show.
Blinken, who is currently on a trip across Europe to coordinate with allies against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, added that he discussed oil imports with President Joe Biden and his cabinet on Saturday. read more
Blinken’s comments came as oil prices , have soared over the past week after the United States and its allies sanctioned Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
After Russia’s invasion of 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 U.S. energy prices.
Asked if the United States has ruled out banning Russian oil imports unilaterally, 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 coordinating with allies and partners,” Blinken said.
Americans are by far the world’s heaviest consumers of gasoline, thanks to big cars, long driving distances and little public transportation in many areas, and rising gas prices have traditionally been political poison for U.S. leaders.
U.S. gasoline 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 of gas 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 United States imported more than 20.4 million barrels of crude and refined products a month on average in 2021 from Russia, about 8% of U.S. liquid fuel imports, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Blinken said there were a series of additional measures that the United States was looking at to increase the pressure on Russia, but he did not provide any details on what the new measures would be.
Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Mark Porter
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