The United States on Tuesday announced a ban on Russian oil and other energy imports, in what can be seen as a highly symbolic move to punish Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine but which could risk driving crude prices higher amid concerns over supply disruptions.

Britain also said the same day it will phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of the year, while the European Union, which relies heavily on Russia's energy resources, came up with a proposal to free itself of dependency on Russian fossil fuels before 2030.

While the United States is not a major importer of Russian oil, President Joe Biden said his country will not be immune from the impact of its own import ban against Russia -- one of the world's largest oil producers -- but emphasized that standing up for Ukraine is worth the risk.

U.S. President Joe Biden announces actions to continue to hold Russia accountable for its war on Ukraine at the White House on March 8, 2022, in Washington. (UPI/Kyodo)

"Defending freedom is going to cost -- it's going to cost us as well, in the United States," Biden said at the White House, adding, "If we do not respond to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's assault on global peace and stability today, the cost of freedom and to the American people will be even greater tomorrow."

The ban, based on an executive order signed by Biden, will take effect immediately and also apply to the importation of certain petroleum products, liquefied natural gas and coal, according to a senior Biden administration official.

Companies will be allowed 45 days to wind down existing contracts for Russian energy supplies, the official said. The order also bars new U.S. investment in Russia's energy sector.

The White House said the move is expected to deprive Russia of "billions of dollars in revenues" from U.S. consumers and drivers annually.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the decision, saying on Twitter that he is "thankful" to the United States for "striking in the heart of Putin's war machine" and that he encourages other countries to follow suit.

The announcement of the U.S. import ban sent oil prices higher Tuesday, with West Texas Intermediate crude futures for April rising $4.30 to settle at $123.70 per barrel in New York, the highest level since August 2008.

Gasoline prices in the United States reportedly surpassed the previous record high set in July 2008, as the national average topped $4.17 per gallon, according to data by the American Automobile Association, a blow to households in a country where cars are essential to everyday life amid already rising inflation.

Biden said he understands many European countries may not be in a position to join the U.S. action, apparently due to their higher energy reliance on Russia, but he emphasized that the United States and its allies remain "united" in their bid to keep pressuring Putin.

About 8 percent of U.S. imports of crude oil and refined products, or about 672,000 barrels per day, came from Russia last year, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The United States has been a net annual petroleum exporter since 2020.

In contrast, Russia accounts for around 25 percent of the EU's oil imports and provides around 45 percent of total gas imports, according to a press release from the European Commission.

As Russia's invasion of Ukraine has raised concern that Moscow could weaponize its energy resources to retaliate against sanctions imposed by the West, the EU said Tuesday it will seek to cut its dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of 2022 and to become free of Russian fossil fuels "well before 2030."

The British government said its planned phasing out of Russian oil imports would allow the country "more than enough time" for the market and supply chains to adjust to the changes. Russian imports account for 8 percent of Britain's total oil demand, according to the government.

The United States, the EU and other U.S. allies, including Japan, have rolled out economic sanctions in response to Russia's military attack against Ukraine, including cutting several Russian banks off from the SWIFT international payment system and imposing asset freezes on Putin and Russian business oligarchs.

But the invasion has continued for more than 10 days, resulting in civilian casualties and driving around 2 million refugees from Ukraine.

Biden said Putin "seems determined to continue on his murderous path no matter the cost."

"Russia may continue to grind out its advance at a horrible price, but this much is already clear: Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin," he added, vowing to keep providing security, economic and humanitarian assistance to Kyiv to help the people defend their freedom.

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