US considering ban on oil imports from Russia: Antony Blinken
Antony Blinken also said that he has told his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, that China, as a country that often speaks about the sanctity about the principle of sovereignty, should “stand up and have its voice heard”.
Acknowledging that Russian president Vladimir Putin has the “capacity” to keep “grinding things down” against “incredibly resilient and courageous Ukrainians”, the US secretary of state Antony J Blinken has said that the US is now considering ways to ban import of oil from Russia.
Blinken also said that he has told his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, that China, as a country that often speaks about the sanctity about the principle of sovereignty, should “stand up and have its voice heard”.
“I spent about an hour on the phone with my counterpart the other day...We would expect China, based on everything it’s said in the past, to stand up and make its voice heard. Its voice is very important in this…So we are looking to China to make its voice heard. That voice counts, and I hope that they will do that.”
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, when asked about sanctions on oil imports, Antony Blinken said, “We are adding to the sanctions virtually every day. We’re doing it in coordination with Europeans…And when it comes to oil, Russian oil, I was on the phone yesterday with the President and other members of the cabinet on exactly this subject, and we are now talking to our European partners and allies to look in a coordinated way at the prospect of banning the import of Russian oil while making sure that there is still an appropriate supply of oil on world markets. That’s a very active discussion as we speak.”
The administration has, so far, been careful about energy sanctions - despite launching what President Joe Biden has termed the maximum economic impact campaign against Putin “in all of history” with unprecedented financial and export control sanctions - due to its potential impact on energy prices globally and in the US itself. But critics of the policy have alleged that this gives Russia a major source of revenue and dilutes the impact of other sanctions.
When asked about Russia’s continued military offensive, and how he would respond to Ukrainians who were wondering what the West was doing to help them, Antony Blinken - who is in eastern Europe - said that he was working with Nato allies, European Union partners and others to increase “even more the extraordinary pressure” that’s already been exerted on Russia.
“Vladimir Putin has, unfortunately, the capacity, with the sheer manpower that he has in Ukraine and the overmatch that he has, the ability to keep grinding things down against incredibly resilient and courageous Ukrainians. And I think we have to be prepared for this to last for some time…The Ukrainian people have demonstrated that they will not allow themselves to be subjugated to Vladimir Putin or Russia’s rule. But it could take some time, and meanwhile the suffering is real.”
When asked about the US position on whether Russia was committing “war crimes”, the secretary of state said, “We have seen very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians, which would constitute a war crime. We have seen very credible reports about the use of certain weapons. And what we’re doing right now is documenting all of this, putting it all together, looking at it, and making sure that as people and the appropriate organisations and institutions investigate whether war crimes have been or are being committed, that we can support whatever they’re doing.”