WH Announces Ban on Russian Oil, Gas, Coal: 'We Can Absorb the Cost'


On Monday, White House National Advisor Jake Sullivan appeared on ABC News and announced that President Joe Biden has banned all imports of Russian oil, gas, and coal.

He said, "President Biden issued an executive order banning all Russian oil, gas, and coal from the United States. The U.S. will not contribute $1.00 from those three imports to the Russian war machine."

Sullivan added, "We can absorb the cost of that."

Just like we are absorbing the costs of everything else? Americans are drowning and Democrats are just waving from the boat. Inflation is at a record high and the middle class is struggling more than we ever have.

But hey, I guess we can just "absorb the cost of that." Right?

Here is the full transcript from Sullivan's appearance on ABC:

JONATHAN KARL, ABC "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: Joining me now, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Jake, thank you for joining us this morning on "This Week."

This is, obviously, Putin's war, but when you see the evidence that we have seen of the atrocities committed by the Russian forces, the people who were interrogated and then shot, shot with their hands tied behind their back, what do you -- do you believe this is orchestrated and directed out of the Kremlin by Putin or are these rogue actions by -- by commanders on the ground?

SULLIVAN: Well, Jon, first, thanks for having me.

The images that we've seen out of Bucha and other cities have been tragic, they've been horrifying, they've been downright shocking, but they have not been surprising. We, in fact, before the war began, declassified intelligence and presented it indicating that there was a plan from the highest levels of the Russian government to target civilians who oppose the invasion, to cause violence against them, to organize efforts to brutalize them in order to try to terrorize the population and subjugate it. So this is something that was planned.

Now in addition to that, I think there certainly are cases where individual soldiers or individual units got frustrated because the Ukrainians were beating them back. They had been told they were going to have a glorious victory and just ride into Kyiv without any opposition with the Ukrainians welcoming them. And when that didn't happen, I do think some of these units engaged in these acts of brutality, these atrocities, these war crimes even without direction from above.

But make no mistake, the larger issue of broad scale war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine lies at the feet of the Kremlin and lies at the feet of the Russian president.

KARL: And Prime Minister -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that those crimes, in his words, doesn't look -- don't look far short of genocide. And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had this to say. "When we murder wantonly innocent civilians because of who they are, whether it be their religion, race, or nationality, that is genocide. And Mr. Putin is guilty of it."

It was about a week ago that President Biden said that he didn't think this was genocide. Does he still stand by that or is that calculation changing?

SULLIVAN: We haven't yet reached a determination on genocide. That is a determination that we work through systematically. There is a unit at the State Department that gathers evidence and then makes a legal analysis because genocide is actually a legal determination.

But let's set legalities aside for a minute, Jon. I think we can all say that these are mass atrocities. These are war crimes. These are shocking and brutal acts that are completely unacceptable, beyond the pale for the international community. So whatever label one wants to affix to them, the bottom line is this, there must be accountability. And the United States will work with the international community to make sure there's accountability.

In the meantime, though, we're not going to wait for that. We are going to get Ukraine the weapons it needs to beat back the Russians, to stop them from taking more cities and towns where they commit these crimes, and also to squeeze the Russian economy, to increase the pressure and the cost on Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin and the Russian government. That's what we're going to do. And we intend to work in lock step with our allies and partners in support of the Ukrainians as they defend their country.

KARL: Is it time for Europe to cut off Russian oil and gas? I mean it's $850 million a day. It was not long ago a billion dollars a day of Russian energy purchased by Europe. I mean that -- it's a -- it's a massive influx of money that is funding the war machines. Is it time for it to be stopped?

SULLIVAN: Well, first, Jon, as you know, President Biden made the decision to cut off Russian oil, gas and coal from the United States, to ban it, to stop the United States doing anything to fund Putin's war machine in this respect.

KARL: Right.

SULLIVAN: When he did that, he said that we were in a different position from the Europeans because we are a net energy exporter, we have the capacity to absorb that in a way that can impose costs on Russia without imposing massive costs on the American people.

He is now working on a daily basis with his European colleagues on steps Europe can take to wean itself off of Russian oil and gas. In fact, the United States is surging gas exports to Europe in order for them to reduce their dependence on Russia. And he's talking to them about what they can do to get off Russian oil as well.

So, we're not going to get ahead of anything that they ultimately will decide, but it is a matter of priority for the United States to continue to work with our European partners on this issue.

KARL: But you hear the frustration from President Zelensky. We heard it from the mayor of Kyiv that the money continues to flow, that the ruble is not in rubble as -- as -- as the president said in -- in the State of the Union Address. The money is still flowing and flowing in pretty dramatic levels.

SULLIVAN: Well, first of all, if you look at independent projections of the Russian economy, it is likely to fall by something like 10 to 15 percent this year. It is likely to cease to be one of the world's major economies because of the economic pressure we have put on them.

And as for the ruble, I think it was "The Wall Street Journal" that said it's basically entered a central bank induced coma because the reason that it's at the level it's at is that it's being artificially propped up. That's just one example, Jon. Banks aren't allowing -- are not allowed by the Russian government to sell dollars to customers. That's how they're protecting the ruble.

But that has huge economic costs on the -- on the Russian economy. And we will continue to squeeze the Russian economy so that Russia and the Kremlin feel the pain from what they have done in Ukraine. And in the meantime, we will keep working on additional ways to deny them revenue.

KARL: The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said this week, talked quite, it seemed, unusually candidly about Russian casualties, saying "We have significant losses of our troops. It's a huge tragedy for us."

What -- what do you make of that admission and how much do you think the Russian people really know about the casualties, about the losses suffered by -- by the Russian troops?

SULLIVAN: Well, we know that because of the firm control of the Russian state, their grip on information in Russia, that the Russian people are not getting the truth about Ukraine, are not getting the truth about the atrocities and war crimes being committed.

They are not getting the truth, for example, Jon, about the fact that the Russians lost and the Ukrainians won the battle for Kyiv. Kyiv stands despite Russia’s effort to conquer the capital city of their neighbor. They were unable to do that, and they suffered a significant military defeat there.

Now they’re regrouping and reconstituting, trying to make gains in other parts of Ukraine. But they have suffered, as you said, enormous casualties and it probably got to the point where it was impossible, just given the sheer scale of those casualties, for the Kremlin to continue to deny it, despite the fact that they have this grip on the information inside of Russia.

KARL: White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, thank you for joining us.

SULLIVAN: Thanks for having me.

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