President Joe Biden took to the podium March 8 to announce a US ban on oil imports from Russia. While many welcomed the news, questions remained as to what impact this would have on the home front. As inflation soars in the United States and gas prices are going up faster than one can blink, the commander-in-chief labeled the fiscal pain “Putin’s price hike.” But is there a plan in place other than setting the narrative spin machine in motion? And how does the rest of the world feel about this newest step in punishing the Kremlin?
During the press conference, Biden stated:
“Today I am announcing the United States is targeting the main artery of Russia’s economy. We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy. That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at US ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to [Russian President] Putin’s war machine.”
That also means, Biden admitted, that the cost of gas likely will significantly increase for Americans.
With midterm elections coming up, Democrats are scrambling to pull a rabbit out of their collective hats over a president with one of the lowest approval ratings in recent history. They know that Americans are not too happy with the rapidly increasing cost of food and the surging prices at the gas pumps. However, in their quest for green energy, the progressives left the United States without enough resources to provide for its people. Now they have to find another way to get the goods – and that means turning to those they have already shunned.
Look to Someone Else’s Horizon
Over the weekend, Biden administration officials went to Venezuela to talk about the possibility of getting the country to sell its oil internationally. Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s president, is also Vladimir Putin’s top ally in Latin America. The negotiators reportedly discussed American citizens that are currently detained in the country, including two Green Berets who were accused of plotting to remove Maduro.
Approaching Venezuela is not a popular move on either side of the political aisle. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that Biden, instead of producing more American oil, “wants to replace the oil we buy from one murderous dictator with oil from another murderous dictator.” Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) said America shouldn’t be going to Venezuela at all: “When are we going to learn that we can’t be relying on these thugs?”
Several Republicans emphasized how doing this would only be empowering Venezuela. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) further suggested:
“I don’t think anybody could be this much of an imbecile. And I say that painfully because it’s too reckless, too stupid, too idiotic, too dangerous for it to be true. This will do nothing, by the way. Venezuelan oil? They’re barely producing now.”
And on the left, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) agreed the idea is a bit radical and that he would oppose it should efforts continue. He opined:
“In the last month, the international community has come together in an unprecedented way to reject military aggression by Russia and stand up for democracy. But the Biden administration’s efforts to unify the entire world against a murderous tyrant in Moscow should not be undercut by propping up a dictator under investigation for crimes against humanity in Caracas.”
Another “uncomfortable” endeavor is the continued effort to get Saudi Arabia to produce more oil. Bad feelings don’t even begin to describe the mood between the United States and the Saudi kingdom. The US accused Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of approving the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and last year Biden called the prince a killer. The president has been reluctant to try any negotiations with the prince and has limited communications to his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.
So far, Saudi officials show no sign of reneging on their existing deal with OPEC+ and the production schedule agreement with Russia.
Meanwhile, getting other European countries to ban Russian oil and natural gas isn’t easy. Russia supplies 40% of the natural gas for Europe and 25% of the crude oil. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz claimed that without imports from Russia, Europe can’t secure its supplies of energy and that Russian fuel is of “essential importance” to its citizens. Mihály Varga, Hungary’s finance minister, posted on Facebook that his country would not support Russian energy sanctions of any kind.
Talks are in the works with Asian and North African officials about obtaining more oil. Japan and Qatar have indicated they would be willing to contribute to fill supply gaps.
Gas prices have been on the rise in the United States through the entirety of Joe Biden’s presidency. That he now decides to label the increase “Putin’s price hike” seems to smack more of spin than substance. As friendly overtures are made to global despots, and the administration refuses to put on hold the push to Net Zero, it seems doubtful that clever messaging will be enough to end Amerca’s pain at the pump.
~ Read more from Kelli Ballard.
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