Wednesday, August 10, 2022

White House says blocking Russian oil would increase prices, rules out no-fly zone in Ukraine

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The White House said Thursday that President Biden is still not considering a no-fly zone over Ukraine and warned that blocking Russian oil imports would result in higher prices for consumers.

“A no-fly zone requires implementation. It would require essentially the U.S. military shooting down Russian planes and causing — prompting — a direct war with Russia, the exact step we want to avoid,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

On energy, she said U.S. oil companies should tap into existing licenses to increase domestic supply, pushing back on congressional lawmakers who said the administration should block Russian imports while restarting the Keystone XL pipeline or perform more drilling on federal lands. 

“We don’t have a strategic interest in decreasing the global supply of energy,” she said. “Less supply raises prices, and that is certainly a big factor for the president at this moment.”

She argued that the U.S. will degrade Russia’s status as a leading energy supplier over time, including efforts with Germany to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Earlier this week, Mr. Biden tapped the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve as part of a global release from reserves to increase supply amid the war.

The challenge for Mr. Biden is that oil prices are continuing to rise, surging above $110 per barrel, and are unlikely to go down anytime soon.

“The president is going to do everything he can to reduce the impact,” Ms. Psaki said.

Ms. Psaki also said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s call to boot Russia from the U.N. Security Council is unlikely to occur.

“We don’t see that happening. That is why it’s so particularly disturbing that Russia, given its particular responsibility for upholding the U.N. Charter, is actively subverting the charter,” she said.

She also criticized Mr. Putin’s government for a crackdown on the free press within his borders. “The Kremlin right now is engaged in a full assault on media freedom and the truth.”

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