The United States and European allies are exploring banning imports of Russian oil, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday, and the White House coordinated with key Congressional committees moving forward with their own ban.
Europe relies on Russia for crude oil and natural gas but has become more open to the idea of banning Russian products in the past 24 hours, a source familiar with the discussions told Reuters on Sunday.
Meanwhile, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi also said in a Sunday letter that the chamber is “exploring” legislation to ban the import of Russian oil and that Congress intends to enact this week $10 billion in aid for Ukraine in response to Moscow’s military invasion of its neighbour.
The White House is also talking with the Senate Finance Committee and House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee about a potential ban, the source said.
Still, Blinken also 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 on a trip across Europe to coordinate with allies the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, also said he discussed oil imports with President Joe Biden and his cabinet on Saturday.
Japan, which counts Russia as its fifth-biggest supplier of crude oil, is also in discussion with the United States and European countries about possibly banning Russian oil imports, Kyodo News reported on Monday.
Asked about a potential embargo on Russian oil imports at a regular news conference on Monday, Japan’s top government spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno declined to comment on its communication with the United States.
Oil prices have soared over the past week after the United States and its allies sanctioned Russia over the invasion.