President Joe Biden on Tuesday acknowledged that U.S. gas prices may keep rising due to his sanctions on Russian assets, saying that “defending freedom will have costs.
“As I said last week, defending freedom will have costs for us as well and here at home. We need to be honest about that,” Biden said at the White House. “But as we do this, I’m going to take robust action to make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at [the] Russian economy, not ours,” he continued.
Since taking office last year, gas prices have steadily risen across the United States, reaching close to $5 per gallon in some areas. His critics have said that the price influx is, in part, because he shut down the Keystone XL Pipeline and wouldn’t renew drilling leases as the administration has pushed for electric vehicles.
The president said that he will try to come up with a plan to “limit the pain” that Americans feel at the pump after the sanctions against Russia, one of the world’s top producers of oil and natural gas. Russia is a major supplier of oil to the United States, capturing the No. 2 spot among foreign oil suppliers last year.
“We’re closely monitoring energy supplies for any disruption. We’re executing a plan in coordination with major oil-producing consumers and producers toward a collective investment to secure stability in global energy supplies,” Biden remarked Tuesday. “This will blunt gas prices.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier brushed off the threat of sanctions.
“Our European, American, British colleagues will not stop and will not calm down until they have exhausted all their possibilities for the so-called punishment of Russia,” he said.
Earlier, Biden said he would sanction Russian sovereign debt and some Russian elites as well as Russian bank VEB and a military bank. Those sanctions were issued after Russian President Vladimir Putin formally recognized two Ukrainian breakaway regions as independent nations and signed an order to send Russian troops into the area.
Biden on Monday also signed an executive order blocking new American investment, trade, and financing from flowing into the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, which have been held by pro-Russian separatists since 2014. The separatist areas broke away shortly after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, a move that also drew sanctions under the Obama administration.
The president reiterated that he won’t send any U.S. troops into Ukraine, but he promised new troop movements in NATO member states.
“I’ve authorized additional movements of U.S. forces and equipment already stationed in Europe to strengthen our Baltic allies, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Let me be clear, these are totally defensive moves on our part. We have no intention of fighting Russia,” Biden said.
Reuters contributed to this report.