| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

U.S. says sanctions on Russian energy ‘on the table’

The US is “quite open” to slapping sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas industry while also considering the possible market impact, according to the White House on Wednesday, as global oil prices reached eight-year highs and supply disruptions increased.

In television appearances, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that while Washington was still considering sanctions against Moscow’s huge energy industry in response to Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, the impact on global oil markets and U.S. energy prices was a crucial consideration.

When asked if the United States and its Western partners will impose energy restrictions on Russia, Psaki told MSNBC, “We’re quite open.”

“We’re considering it. It’s very much on the table, but we need to weigh what all of the impacts will be,” she added.

Although the United States has not yet targeted Russian oil sales as part of its sweeping economic sanctions following the invasion, U.S. traders have already acted to put such imports on hold, disrupting energy markets.

Biden’s administration has warned it could block Russian oil if Moscow continues its aggression against Kyiv. However, Psaki said the White House is considering how that could rattle the markets.

“That’s something we heavily weigh,” she told CNN separately.

Oil prices reached a peak of $113 a barrel on Wednesday, nearly one week after Moscow invaded Ukraine. Meanwhile, OPEC+ oil producers meeting on Wednesday agreed to stick to their modest output rises, offering little relief to the market or consumers.

“We want to minimize the impact on the global market place and that includes the global oil market place and the impact of energy prices for the American people,” Psaki said. “We’re not trying to hurt ourselves, we’re trying to hurt President Putin and the Russian economy.”

On Tuesday, the United States and its allies agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil reserves to help offset supply disruptions.

Meanwhile, the United States is preparing a sanctions package targeting more Russian oligarchs as well as their companies and assets, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Previous sanctions have hit Russia’s banking sector, among other targets.

  • Reuters