Murkowski: Banning Russian Oil Imports Would “Hurt” Americans But It’s Worth It If It Means Stopping Putin

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) acknowledged that banning Russian oil imports would “hurt” Americans by driving up energy prices but said that the inconvenience would be worth it if it means stopping Russian President Vladimir Putin, who last week moved to invade Ukraine and drew international condemnation.

“We are going to see price increases,” Murkowski said. “Nobody wants to see that. And this is going to hurt. But we all need to recognize Europe is in the midst of a war with Russia now. Innocent people are dying, children are dying. We have not been in as volatile as a situation as anytime in my life. And so we are looking right now from a very short window.”

“He [Putin] has used energy as a weapon and we are afraid to have it on the table? I’m sorry, he put it on the table. This is not going to be easy on Europe or the United States. Hopefully it will be most difficult on Russia,” she continued.

Hurting the Russian energy sector is the “most significant” tool the United States has, she noted.

The United States and the European Union have thus far been unwilling to impose sanctions on Russian energy exports in response to Putin’s action. Russia provides roughly 10 percent of the global supply.

Some traders don’t believe engaging with Russia is worth the hassle.

“Due to the current situation and uncertainty in the market, Neste has mostly replaced Russian crude oil with other crudes, such as North Sea oil,” said Theodore Rolfvondenbaumen, a spokesman for Neste, an oil refining and marketing company located in Espoo, Finland, noting that the company is assessing “various options in procurement, production and logistics.”

The White House has said sanctioning Russian oil is for the moment not on the table, citing disruptions to the global oil supply and the effect such a move would have on gas prices.

“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, noting that the White House is “very aware of” the fact that sanctioning Russian oil would result in a jump in gas prices.

Instead, she added, the White House is looking at ways to hurt Russia’s energy sector 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 we’re denying critical technology inputs that Russia needs to maintain its production capacity in oil and gas,” she said.
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