Editorial: Biden’s ban on Russian oil is unquestionably worth a salute

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It’s a small price to pay.

While we’ll all likely be grumbling about high gasoline prices for some time to come, President Joe Biden’s decision this week to ban Russian oil imports was unquestionably the right move.

The goal, of course, is to squeeze Russia so tight economically with so many sanctions that its unforgivable and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is a strategic loss for Vladimir Putin, even if his government wins control of some Ukrainian territory.

But the oil ban is also fanning the flames of inflation that were already pushing U.S. gasoline prices higher, now well beyond $4 a gallon.

As Biden aptly acknowledged: “Defending freedom is going to cost.”

So, we really shouldn’t complain too much about paying a little more for gasoline to travel freely to our next destination when Ukrainian civilians are being forced to fight in the streets to protect their homes while family members take refuge in subways-turned-shelters or flee to safety across the border in Poland.

While only a small percentage of America’s oil supply comes from Russia, Biden’s move leads the way for European allies to eventually take the same step, even though it will come at a much steeper cost for them. Europe relies on imports for 90% of its gas and 97% of its oil products, according to the Associated Press.

Corporate America also is doing its part to punish Putin for a bellicose aggression that threatens the post-Cold War world order.

McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and General Electric all announced Tuesday they were temporarily suspending business in Russia.

“Our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine,” McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempczinski said in an open letter to employees.

Indiana-based companies also are responding to the crisis.

As IBJ’s Susan Orr reports on page 1A, Indianapolis-based Allison Transmission Holdings has stopped all sales in the country. Corteva—a producer of seeds, insecticides and herbicides—has paused new sales in Russia while it works to secure its assets in Ukraine. And engine-maker Cummins Inc. has halted at least some of its operations in Russia.

Of course, such decisions can become more complicated when a company’s actions to withdraw could also harm innocent civilians.

Eli Lilly and Co. noted that, while it continues to do business in Russia, it is also “committed to complying with EU and U.S. government trade and economic sanctions as well as restrictions on transactions with restricted parties.” The drugmaker noted that it is also “committed to providing lifesaving medicines to patients around the world.”

Businesses, governments and individuals in the West all must continue to do what they can to stop Putin’s attacks against people who simply want to live in a free and peaceful world.

The future of democracy depends on it. And if all it costs us to protect it is some extra cash at the gas pump or a modest loss in revenue, we should count ourselves lucky.•


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2 thoughts on “Editorial: Biden’s ban on Russian oil is unquestionably worth a salute

  1. Biden’s decision is trying to make ammends for a decision that allowed Europe to be dependent on Russia with the agreement to extend a pipeline through the North Sea called the Nord Stream 2. Lawmakers in DC were overwhelmingly against it with bipartisan support of a slate of mandatory sanctions aimed at crippling the pipeline over geopolitical and environmental concerns. Biden waived those and is now paying the price. Arguably one of the worst Presidents in the history of the USA and we are only a little over 1 year in…

  2. This is only saluted because Biden is such a weak president … and finally did what should have been done immediately. If he had not weakened US energy production over a year ago through his executive actions, Putin would not be doing what he is doing currently. This is a “hollow salute” at best. The world needs a strong US president to lead the world as a champion of freedom and human rights. “Leading from behind” does not work in today’s world with dictators like Putin and Xi waiting to seize opportunities like they currently are seizing. We and the world need a strong leader and we have a weak politician in Biden. The Ukrainians are paying the price for his weakness right now. We may pay far more than “paying at the pump” before this is concluded.