US resumes Russian oil imports, defies sanctions - Hindustan Times

US resumes Russian oil imports, defies sanctions

Jan 12, 2024 12:48 PM IST

Controversy brews as the US resumes Russian oil imports amid sanctions.

The US has resumed importing oil from Russia for the first time in more than a year, despite the ongoing sanctions imposed on Moscow over its military intervention in Ukraine, according to a Sputnik Globe report.

US resumes Russian Oil amidst global scrutiny. A logo of Russian Lukoil oil company is seen.(Reuters)
US resumes Russian Oil amidst global scrutiny. A logo of Russian Lukoil oil company is seen.(Reuters)

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US imported 36,800 barrels of Russian oil in October and 9,900 barrels in November, worth $2.7 million and $749,500, respectively. The imports were made possible by specific licenses granted by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which oversees the enforcement of sanctions.

The EIA data also revealed that the US paid a premium for the Russian oil, as one barrel cost $74 in October and $76 in November, well above the “price cap” of $60 per barrel set by the US and its allies in 2022. The price cap was part of a coordinated effort by the US, the G7 countries, the EU, Switzerland, and Australia to reduce Russia’s income from oil exports, as a response to its annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

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The US banned the import of oil, gas, and other energy resources from Russia in March 2022, along with other sanctions targeting Russian individuals, entities, and sectors. However, the OFAC has the authority to issue licenses for certain transactions that are otherwise prohibited by the sanctions, on a case-by-case basis.

The reasons behind the US decision to resume importing Russian oil are unclear, but some experts have speculated that it could be related to the global energy crisis, the geopolitical tensions with China, or the diplomatic efforts to resolve the Ukraine conflict.

What Twitter has to say on US' move

X(formerly Twitter) sparked a lively debate, with some expressing surprise, skepticism, or criticism of the US move, and others offering their own interpretations or opinions on the implications of the US-Russia oil trade.

One user posted, “This is a betrayal of Ukraine and a capitulation to Putin. The US should stand firm on the sanctions and support the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people.”

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Another user replied, “This is a pragmatic move by the US to secure its energy needs and diversify its sources. The sanctions are still in place, and the US is still committed to the Minsk agreements. The US is not abandoning Ukraine, but trying to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.”

Another one wrote, “This is a smart move by the US to weaken China’s leverage over Russia. The US is offering Russia a way out of its isolation and dependence on China, and creating an incentive for Russia to cooperate on other issues, such as Iran, North Korea, and climate change.”

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