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Washington, Berlin, Paris and London are reluctant to deprive themselves of Russian hydrocarbons | War in Ukraine

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In a brief statement on Monday, the White House said US President Joe Biden had spoken earlier in the day with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The three men, it is noted, have agreed to continue make Russia pay for its unprovoked and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine and of provide security, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

Nowhere in the press release is there any mention of a possible embargo on Russian hydrocarbons, a possibility that shook the markets on Monday. But the question was discussed during the meeting, confirmed White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki at a press briefing.

Jen Psaki at a press briefing.

Jen Psaki clarified that Joe Biden had “not made a decision at this stage” concerning unilateral action by the United States itself, as parliamentarians from the Democratic majority and the Republican opposition prepare a draft embargo on Russian oil imports.

Photo: Getty Images / NICHOLAS KAMM

President Biden has not made a decision at this stage on a possible embargo, specified Mrs Psaki, insisting on very different circumstances for Europeans and Americans – the former being more dependent on Russian hydrocarbons than the latter.

In order to compensate for a possible reduction in imports of Russian crude, Washington is juggling several options. First foreign source of oil for the United States (61% of volumes), Canada could notably increase its exports to its American neighbour.

But according to the daily The New York Timesthe Biden government has also resumed contact with the Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro to study the possible easing of the sanctions that have targeted the country since 2019.

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The United States is also negotiating with Iran to revive the 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Success would lift sanctions on Iranian oil and add 1.3 to 1.5 million barrels per day to the market.

Finally, according to several American media, Joe Biden’s advisers are studying the possibility of a trip to Saudi Arabia to try to convince the kingdom to produce more black gold, which he has so far refused to do. despite soaring prices.

keep a united front

In the meantime, Washington is maintaining its imports of Russian oil, the White House being careful not to crack more than necessary the cohesion shown so far by the West in terms of economic sanctions against the regime of Vladimir Putin.

Germany, for example, is very hesitant to impose an embargo on Moscow. On Monday, Chancellor Scholz also made it known that fossil fuel imports from Russia were essential for the daily life of citizens in Europe.

According to him, the supply of the continent – ​​including his own country, heavily dependent on Russian gas – could not be ensured otherwise at this stage.

The embargo would have catastrophic consequenceswarns Moscow

Generally speaking, Western leaders are puzzled by the idea of ​​imposing an oil embargo on Moscow, for fear of contributing to inflation and skyrocketing oil costs, which these days are flirting with record levels, both on the stock markets and at the pump.

In Europe, a liter of fuel currently costs two euros, while in Canada, it hovers around two dollars, unheard of.

And such a rise will only get worse if the West suspends imports of Russian oil and gas, warns Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.

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It is quite obvious that the refusal to buy Russian oil will lead to catastrophic consequences for the world market, he said on Monday. According to him, such an embargo could drive up the price of oil todollars for a barrel”,”text”:”more than 300dollars for a barrel”}}’>more than US$300 for a barrelmore than twice its current value.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Novak, it is impossible to quickly replace Russian oil supplies to the European market with those from another source. It will take several years and it will be much more expensive for European consumers who will be the main victims of such a scenario.he warned.

Alexandre Novak wearing an earpiece.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak warns of the backlash that Western powers could suffer if they decide to impose an embargo on his country’s hydrocarbons.

Photo: Reuters/Evgenia Novozhenina

Russia, says its Deputy Prime Minister, is preoccupied by the discussions on a possible embargo on its oil, which undermine market fundamentals, create uncertainty and result in significant harm to consumers.

That said, the Russians themselves could cease their energy exports via the Nord Stream I gas pipeline if European politicians [les y poussent] with their statements and accusationswarned Alexander Novak.

The commissioning of the Nord Stream II gas pipeline, which links Russia to Germany, was already suspended by Berlin last month, in the wake of Moscow’s recognition of the independence of the separatist territories in eastern Ukraine. . Since then, his operator has had major financial problems.

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