Photo Credit: WH.gov
US President Joe Biden on March 8, 2022

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a ban on Russian oil imports. The full transcript of his remarks follows.

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“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,” Biden said in a nationally televised address.

“That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at US ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine.

“This is a move that has strong bipartisan support in Congress and, I believe, in the country.

“Americans have rallied to support the Ukrainian people and made it clear we will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war.

“We made this decision in close consultation with our allies and our partners around the world, particularly in Europe because a united response to Putin’s aggression has been my overriding focus, to keep all NATO, and all of EU and our allies totally united.

“We’re moving forward with this ban understanding that many of our European allies and partners may not be in a position to join us.

“The United States produces far more oil domestically than all the European countries combined.

“In fact, we’re a net exporter of energy – so we can take this step when others cannot.

“But we’re working closely with Europe and our partners to develop a long-term strategy to reduce their dependence on Russian energy as well.

“Our teams are actively discussing how to make this happen, and today we remain united – remain united – in our purpose to keep pressure mounting on Putin and his war machine.

“This is a step we’re taking to inflict further pain on Putin, but there will be cost here in the United States. I said I would level with the American people from the beginning, and when I first spoke to this, I said defending freedom was gonna cost, and will cost us as well in the United States.

“Republicans and Democrats alike understand that. Republicans and Democrats alike have been clear that we must do this. Over the last week I’ve spoken to President Zelensky several times, to hear from him about the situation on the ground and to consult, and to continue to consult, with our European allies about US support for Ukraine and Ukrainian people.

“Thus far, we’ve provided more than one billion dollars in security assistance to Ukraine. Shipments of defense weapons are arriving in Ukraine every day from the United States, and we – the United States – are the ones coordinating the delivery of our allies and partners of similar weapons, from Germany to Finland, to the Netherlands. We’re working that out.

“We’re also providing humanitarian support for the Ukrainian people, both those still in Ukraine and those who have fled safely to neighboring countries.

“We’re working with humanitarian organizations to surge tens of thousands of tons of food, water, and medical supplies into Ukraine, and with more on the way.

“Over the weekend I sent Secretary Blinken to visit the border between Poland and Ukraine, and to Moldova to see what the situation was first-hand and report back.

“General Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, our Defense Department, was also in Europe meeting with his counterparts and allies on NATO’s eastern flank, to reassure them – those countries bordering Russia, NATO countries – that we will keep our NATO commitment, the sacred commitment of Article 5.

“Vice President Harris is going to be traveling to meet with our allies in Poland and Romania later this week as well.

“I’ve made it clear the United States will share in the responsibility of caring for the refugees, so the costs do not fall entirely on the European countries bordering Ukraine.

“And yesterday I spoke with my counterparts in France, Germany and the United Kingdom about Russia’s escalating violence against Ukraine and the steps that we’re gonna take together with our allies and partners around the world to respond to this aggression.

“We are enforcing the most significant package of economic sanctions in history and it’s causing significant damage to Russia’s economy.

“It has caused Russian economy to, quite frankly, crater. The Russian ruble is now down by 50 percent since Putin announced his war. One ruble is now worth less than one American penny. And preventing Russia’s Central Bank from propping up the ruble and to keep its value up. They’re not going to be able to do that now.

“We cut Russia’s largest banks from the international financial system, and it has crippled their ability to do business with the rest of the world.

“In addition, we’re choking off Russia’s access to technology, like semi-conductors and SAP, it’s economic strength and weakened its military for years to come.

“Major companies are pulling out of Russia entirely, without even being asked, not by us. Over the weekend, VISA, Mastercard, American Express – they all suspended their services in Russia, all of them – joining a growing list of American and global companies from Ford to NIKE, to Apple. They’ve suspended their operations in Russia.

“The US Stock Exchange has halted trading of many Russian securities. The private sector is united against Russia’s vicious war of choice.

“The US Department of Justice has assembled a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs, and we’re joining with our European allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets, and all their ill-begotten gains, to make sure they share in the pain of Putin’s war.

“This is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The decision today is not without cost here at home. Putin’s war is already hurting American families at the gas pump. Since Putin began his military buildup on the Ukrainian borders, just since then, the price of the gas at the pump in American went up 75 cents, and with this action it’s going to go up further.

“I’m going to do everything I can minimize Putin’s price hike here at home. In coordination with our partners, we’ve already announced that we’re releasing 60 million barrels of oil from our joint oil reserves.

“Half of that – 30 million – is coming from the United States. And we’re taking steps to ensure a reliable supply of global energy.

“We’re also going to keep working with every tool at our disposal to protect American families and businesses.

“Let me say this: to the oil and gas companies and to the finance firms that back them, we understand Putin’s war against the people of Ukraine is causing prices to rise. We get that, that’s self-evident. But – but, but, but – it’s no excuse to exercise excessive price increases, or padding profits, or any kind of effort to exploit this situation or American consumers – to exploit them.

“Russia’s aggression is costing us all, and it’s not time for profiteering or price gouging. I want to be clear about what we’ll not tolerate, but I also want to acknowledge those firms and oil and gas industries that are pulling out of Russia and joining other businesses that are leading by example.

“This is a time when we have to do our part, and make sure that we’re not taking advantage.

“Look: let me be clear about two other points.

“First, it’s simply not true that my administration or policies are holding back domestic energy production. That’s simply not true.

“Even amid the pandemic, companies in the United States pumped more oil during my first year in office than they did during my predecessor’s first year.

“We’re approaching a record level of oil and gas production in the United States and we’re on track to set a record oil production next year.

“In the United States, 90 percent of onshore oil production takes place on land that isn’t owned by the federal government, and of the remaining 10 percent that occurs on federal land the oil and gas industry has millions of acres leased. They have 9,000 permits to drill now. They could be drilling right now, yesterday, last week, last year.

“They have 9,000 [permits] to drill onshore, already approved. So let me be clear: they are not using them for production now. That’s their decision. These are the facts. We should be honest about the facts.

“Second: this crisis is a stark reminder to protect our economy over the long term. We need to become energy independent. I’ve had numerous conversations over the last few months with our European friends about how they have to wean themselves off of Russian oil.

“It’s just not tenable. It should motivate us to accelerate the transition to clean energy. This is a perspective our European allies share, and the future where together we can achieve greater independence.

“Loosening the environmental regulations or pulling back clean energy investment won’t. Will not lower energy prices for families. But transforming our economy to run on electric vehicles powered by clean energy, with tax credits to help American families winterize their homes and use less energy —that will. That will help, and if we can, if we do what we can, it will mean that no one has to worry about the price at the gas pump in the future.

“That will mean tyrants like Putin won’t be able to use fossil fuels as weapons against other nations and it will make America a world leader, manufacturing and exporting clean energy technologies in the future to countries all around the world.

“This is the goal we should be racing toward. Over the last two weeks, the Ukrainian people have inspired the world. And I mean that in the literal sense. They have inspired the world with their bravery, their patriotism, their defiant determination to live free.

“Putin’s war has caused enormous suffering and needless loss of life, of women, children, everyone in Ukraine – both Ukraine and, I might add, Russians.

“Ukrainian leaders, as well as leaders around the world have repeatedly called for a ceasefire. For humanitarian relief. For real diplomacy. But Putin seems determined to continue on his murderous path, no matter the cost.

“Putin’s now targeting cities – and has been targeting these cities – and civilians, schools, hospitals, apartment buildings. Last week he attacked the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, with an apparent disregard for the potential of triggering a nuclear meltdown.

“He has already turned two million Ukrainians into refugees. 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.

“Putin may be able to take a city, but he’ll never be able to hold the country, and if we do not respond to Putin’s assault on global peace and stability today, the cost of freedom – and to the American people – will be even greater tomorrow. So, we’re going to continue to support the brave Ukrainian people as they fight for their country, and I call on Congress to pass the $12 billion Ukraine assistance package that I have asked them for, of late.

“Ukrainian people have demonstrated by their physical courage that they’re not about to just let Putin take what he wants. That’s clear. They’ll defend their freedom, their democracy, their lives. And we’re going to keep providing security assistance, economic assistance, and humanitarian assistance. We’re going to support them against tyranny, oppression, violent acts of subjugation.

“People everywhere are speaking up for freedom. When the history of this war is written, Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker, and the rest of the world stronger.

“May God bless all those here and in Ukraine.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.