US PRESIDENT Joe Biden announced yesterday the country is banning Russian oil and gas in response to Russia’s ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine.
Biden said the move targets ‘the main artery of Russia’s economy’.
He spoke soon after the European Commission said it would reduce EU demand for Russian gas by two-thirds – the EU gets 40% of its gas from Russia.
The move will undoubtedly trigger a further gigantic leap in petrol prices and energy bills for families.
Russia is the world’s third biggest oil producer, behind Saudi Arabia and the US.
Before the measures were announced, Russia warned of ‘catastrophic’ consequences for the global economy and said it might close its main gas pipeline to Germany.
Investor fears of an embargo drove Brent crude oil to $139 (£106) a barrel at one point on Monday – its highest level for almost 14 years.
‘We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy,’ Biden said yesterday. ‘That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at US ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to President Vladimir Putin.’
Biden admitted the move is ‘not without cost at home,’ adding the decision was taken ‘in close consultation’ with allies.
The UK is to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of 2022, Tory Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced on Twitter. He said businesses should ‘use this year to ensure a smooth transition so that consumers will not be affected’.
About 8% of US oil and refined product imports come from Russia, while Russia makes up about 6% of the UK’s oil imports.
Meanwhile in the House of Commons later in the afternoon, the Speaker of the House announced that the formal business of the House had been suspended to allow President of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky to address Parliament via video link.
‘Mr Speaker, members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen I am addressing all the people of the United Kingdom,’ Zelensky said.
‘I am addressing you as the president and as a citizen. I would like to tell about the 13-days of war.
‘A war that we did not start and that we have not concluded.’
He then went into a day-by-day account of his version of the conflict.
When he got to ‘Day Nine’ he said: ‘On Day Nine there was a meeting of the NATO congress. We did not get the result we were looking for.
‘Yes, we did feel that. We did feel that unfortunately the alliance does not work properly and the no-fly zone cannot be enforced.’
Later he said: ‘The United Kingdom … the Ukraine was not looking to have this war.
‘We are the country that is saving people despite having to fight one of the biggest armies in the world. We have to fight the helicopters, the rockets.
‘The question, the Shakespearian question “to be or not to be?” was posed to us.
‘I can answer that now, it is definitely to be. We will not give up, we will fight till the end. We will fight at sea, in the air and we will continue fighting for our land whatever the cost. We will fight in the forests, in the fields and in the streets.’
He concluded: ‘I am very grateful to you Boris, please increase the sanctions against Russia. And please recognise this country as a terrorist state.
‘Please make sure our Ukrainian skies are safe. Please make sure you do what needs to be done.’
Tory PM Johnson in a point of order claimed that Zelensky is ‘standing firm for democracy and freedom’.
He said: ‘This is a moment to put our political difference aside. To press on supplying the Ukraine with weapons, to press on to tightening the economic vice around Vladimir Putin.’
Kier Starmer, leader of the Labour Party in his Point of Order said: ‘Labour stands for the unity at home and abroad that will isolate the Putin regime. Labour stands with providing the Ukraine with the arms they need to defend themselves.’