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Blinken says ‘no strategic interest’ in Russia energy sanctions, resists calls for oil import ban

Secretary of State Antony Blinken downplayed the impact that energy sanctions on Russia would have, arguing any such sanctions would hurt America and its allies more than they would Moscow. 

U.S. lawmakers have expressed bipartisan support for cutting imports on Russian oil and gas over fears that continued purchases essentially help fund Putin’s war. President Biden has resisted these calls, and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki maintains that energy sanctions remain “on the table.” 

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Blinken echoed the administration’s caution on the matter, arguing that short-term impact might actually help Russia and hurt America. 

“The sanctions are designed … to have maximum impact on Russia and Putin while minimizing harm to us and our partners,” Blinken told reporters. “There’s no strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy.” 

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“The immediate effect would be to raise prices at the pump for Americans and to pad Russian profits with rising profits,” he argued, adding that the U.S. is working to undermine Russia’s ability to maintain a role as a leading energy provider. 

Such targeted sanctions include cutting Russia’s access to vital technologies that would allow it to continue developing its energy capabilities as well as cutting off the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to stagnate and limit Russia’s growth as an exporter. 

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But these sanctions will take time to have full impact despite the Biden administration touting the still-tumbling ruble (RUR) as evidence of near-term impact. 

Some lawmakers have pushed for more immediate action, such as Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., who introduced legislation Tuesday that would see the White House ban all Russian oil imports into the U.S.

The bill – which would specifically block the importation of petroleum and petroleum products from Russia – has been backed by Energy Committee GOP Leader Sen. John Barrasso along with at least seven other Republicans in the upper chamber.

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