WASHINGTON/LVIV, (Ukraine): US President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a ban on Russian oil and other energy imports, a significant move in piling pressure on President Vladimir Putin to halt his devastating assault on Ukraine.
Ukraine’s government accused Russian forces of shelling a humanitarian corridor that Moscow had promised to open to let residents flee the besieged port of Mariupol.
The civilian death toll in the conflict mounted. And with the war in its 13th day, the number of refugees who have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries surged past 2 million.
“Russia may continue to grind out its advance at a horrible price, but this much is already clear: Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
“Putin may be able to take a city, but he’ll never be able to hold the country,” Biden said.
Addressing Britain’s parliament via videolink, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the world to increase the sanctions. He said his people would fight to the end against the Russian invaders but it needed help, including no-fly zones.
“The question for us now is to be or not to be,” said Zelenskiy, quoting Shakespeare. “I can give you a definitive answer: it’s definitely to be.” Lawmakers gave him a standing ovation.
Western sanctions imposed over the invasion have already cut off Russia from international trade and financial markets. Russia is the world’s biggest exporter of oil and natural gas, and until now its energy exports had been exempted from the international sanctions.
Announcing the U.S. ban on Russian energy imports, Biden said: “That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable in U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine.”
The United States is not a leading buyer of Russian oil but Biden has worked with allies in Europe, who are far more reliant on it, to isolate Russia’s energy-heavy economy and Putin.
Britain announced shortly before Biden’s remarks that it would phase out the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022. The EU also published plans to cut its reliance on Russian gas by two thirds this year.