President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he is open to banning Russian oil imports to penalize Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Are you considering banning Russian oil imports?” a reporter asked Biden on the White House lawn on Wednesday morning. “Nothing is off the table,” the president said.
Following the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States and European Union hammered Russia, Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and top Russian banks with sanctions, while a number of private corporations, shipping firms, sporting leagues, and tech companies said they would refuse to do business in Russia.
Critics of the Biden administration’s policies have said that the United States should restart the Keystone XL pipeline construction and again renew drilling leases to ramp up domestic oil production, instead of relying on Russian oil. Currently, the United States obtains much of its crude oil from Canada, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia, but it still imported about 3 percent of its crude oil from Russia in 2021, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing the Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.
Biden also said Russia is targeting civilians in Ukraine but declined to say whether any war crimes were committed.
“It’s clear they are” targeting civilians, Biden told reporters in Washington. But when asked about the prospect of war crimes, he said, “We are following it very closely. It’s too early to say that.”
Biden also remarked that it is up to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on whether to stay in Ukraine. Previously, Zelensky said he believes he is the No. 1 target for Russia and his family is No. 2, as U.S. officials said the initial phase of Russia’s invasion was designed to decapitate the Kyiv government.
“I think it’s his judgment to make and we’re doing everything we can to help him,” Biden said.
Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city, with a population of about 1.5 million, came under bombardment again Wednesday, and a strike reportedly hit a hospital in the country’s north. Meanwhile, a 40-mile-long (64-kilometer) column of Russian tanks and other vehicles stood outside the capital, Kyiv, while invading forces pressed their assault on the strategic port cities of Kherson and Mariupol in the south.
On Thursday afternoon local time, Russia also alleged its forces captured the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, reported Reuters. However, Aleksiy Arestovych, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, said that “the city has not fallen, our side continues to defend” amid ongoing fighting, highlighting the opposing claims of military victories on both sides of the conflict.