Why Biden Wants Germany to Hold Off On Russian Oil Import Ban

The decision by Germany to not immediately end imports of Russian oil — a move that was expected to deliver a critical blow to Putin and the Kremlin over the unprovoked war on Ukraine — came after an urgent request made by the Biden administration.

According to reports, a European official said that the Biden administration has been pushing the German government to delay cutting off Russian oil imports until later, after the U.S. midterm elections.

The White House appears to believe the administration still has a chance to keep the Senate in Democratic hands. If Germany began buying oil from worldwide markets, the prospect of holding on to power could be endangered by a spike in oil prices.

Previously, President Biden signed a law banning all Russian imports of gas, coal, and oil to the U.S.

The president had also been reluctant to approve a total ban fearing the sky-high cost of gasoline would grow. The United States currently only imports 3% of crude oil from Russia.

Annalena Baerbock, German Foreign Minister, recently announced that Germany would discontinue importing half of its oil from Russia by the summer, with the remaining half shot down by the end of the year.

However, Germany’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner said that Baerbock’s comments don’t suggest a quick cut-off of Russian oil will happen any time soon.

Ukraine’s plea

Ukraine has pled with the nations of Europe to stop imports of Russian oil immediately and put pressure on Russia to stop the unprovoked war on Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for EU oil purchases to be halted, calling them “blood money.” While war atrocities continue, the EU pays Russia around 41 billion per day for gas and oil purchases.

Recently, Oleg Ustenko, Zelenskyy’s economic advisor, lashed out against other EU member nations, especially Germany, for delaying an oil embargo on Russia.

“Imagine how many missiles and bombs you can buy for that kind of money,” Zelenskyy told Britain’s Guardian.

“…They do not understand that by supplying this money to Putin, they are funding his military machine. If Russians commit war crimes, even genocide, whoever is supplying Russia with this bloody money is guilty of the same war crime.”

EU balks at banning Russian oil

EU nations have shown reluctance to ban Russian energy. Poland took the lead in banning imports of Russian coal by May, with plans drawn to stop all gas and oil imports by the end of the year.

After Baerbock announced an impending ban, economic institutes and German unions warn that abruptly stopping imports of Russian oil may spark a severe recession.

Oil experts predict oil prices will rise if Germany does cut off the Russian supply. The Biden administration fears a rise in gas prices could threaten election odds of Democrat candidates if it happens before election day.

The International Energy Agency estimates nearly half of Russia’s petroleum and crude product exports wind up in Europe.

That amounts to 1.2 million barrels per day of petroleum products and 2.2 million barrels of crude oil per day. Germany is the top purchaser of Russian crude, buying 34% of its total petroleum imports from Russia.

If the EU moves quickly to ban Russian oil imports, global oil prices are also expected to increase.