WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has banned Russian oil imports, toughening the toll on Russia's economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine.
The move follows pleas by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to U.S. and Western officials to cut off the imports.
Energy exports have kept a steady influx of cash flowing to Russia despite otherwise severe restrictions on its financial sector.
"We will not be part of subsidizing Putin's war," Biden said in remarks from the White House on Friday.
Hours after news of the U.S. ban broke, Britain announced it would also ban energy imports from Russia. Biden noted that he understood that not all European allies would join the U.S. in the ban, as much of the continent relies on Russia for oil and natural gas.
The move comes as the price of gasoline soars throughout the U.S. On Monday, GasBuddy reported that the national average cost for a gallon of gas had risen to $4.104, breaking the all-time record set in 2008. AAA also reported its highest-ever national average price per gallon Tuesday at more than $4.17.
In his remarks, Biden admitted that his decision to ban imports from Russia would likely cause prices to increase further. He added that the U.S. would release oil from its strategic reserves in the hopes of countering the loss in the global energy supply.
Biden also warned oil companies and financial firms that the Russia-Ukraine conflict should not be an excuse for "excessive" price increases that "exploit consumers." He added that his administration would not accept firms "profiteering" on the crisis.
It also comes as one of the world's top producers of gasoline, Shell, said on Tuesday that it would no longer buy Russian oil and natural gas and shut down the filling stations it operates in the country.