Biden administration does not “have a strategic interest” in banning Russian oil exports, White House says

The White House appeared to walk back its openness to ban Russian oil exports to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin, declining to rule it out entirely but saying that doing so was not in the US strategic interests due to disruptions to the global oil supply and the impact it would have on prices at the pump.

“We don’t have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy,” principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Jean-Pierre said that an export ban “would raise prices at the gas pump for Americans,” something that the White House is “very aware of.”

She lauded US companies that have cut ties with Russia, and said the administration “(welcomes) those announcements.”

But, Jean-Pierre said, the administration is more strategically focused on impacting Russia’s energy status over time. 

“We and our allies and partners have a strong collective interest to degrade Russia’s status as a leading energy supplier over time. That’s why we’ve been talking about diversification. That’s why we shut down Nord Stream 2. That’s why we’re helping to accelerate diversification for Russian gas. And that’s why denying critical technology inputs that Russia needs to maintain its production capacity in oil and gas,” she said.

These more tempered comments come after US President Joe Biden Biden said sanctioning Russian oil exports remained a possibility.

“Nothing is off the table,” Biden said when specifically pressed on banning Russian oil exports earlier Wednesday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN this morning the administration would strongly weigh the possibility of significant disruption to US and global oil markets when making a decision. 

“What he (Biden) does not want to do is topple the global oil markets or the global marketplace, or impact the American people more with higher energy and gas prices. And obviously, the announcement that was made yesterday to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve here and do that in the united way, in a coordinated way with the global community, is an effort to address that and mitigate the impact, but that’s something we heavily weigh.”

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