Joe Biden’s much-heralded international embargo of Russian oil purchases has flopped.
Vladimir Putin is selling more oil to the world now than before his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine provoked Biden’s ineffective boycott.
Not only that, but because of the economic and political uncertainty surrounding the Russian’s “special operation” and the mixed response of other countries, the global price of oil has surged about 30 percent.
So, Putin is not only selling more oil because of his war. He’s also reaping much greater revenues at higher prices because of his war. Which provides far greater sums to finance the now prolonged fighting that Biden professes to oppose.
Before the war, Russia delivered to Europe, for instance, about half of its nearly eight million barrels per day production of crude and refined oil.
Even if Russia cut its production levels now, thanks to increased oil prices energy experts estimate its annual oil revenues to be about $180 billion a year, 45 percent larger than last year.
Russia has shifted its energy sales to Asia, especially ally China, to developing countries that cannot afford the luxury of political protests, and to India, which also needs the energy and has often played Russian relations off against Western attention, for instance, in arms purchases.
Notably, India has refrained from condemning Putin’s invasion at the United Nations and is reportedly enjoying a 30 percent discount on Russian oil.
We’ve written here of Biden’s chronic personal, policy, and political tardiness since taking office. Last fall, the U.S. president, relying on American intelligence, vociferously warned many times that Putin had decided to invade Ukraine.
The Russian leader seized Crimea during the previous Democrat administration when Biden was VP. But had delayed his invasion-troop buildup near Ukraine until two months after a more assertive, less predictable Trump left office.
Despite the long warning of an impending invasion, Biden did not get around to imposing economic sanctions until well after the February invasion launched. He’s still rolling them out with PR fanfares.
As has predictably occurred previously with Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela, sanctions have no effect after the unsatisfactory behavior begins.
We’ll never know if a barrage of preemptive punishments by an assertive U.S. leader could have deterred the four-month-old war that has displaced five million Ukrainians, killed thousands on both sides, and destroyed Ukrainian cities.
Such are the lethal impacts of political decisions made by functionaries safely ensconced in distant places.
In the United States, meanwhile, under the foggy leadership of Biden, the price of gasoline has surged for average Americans who don’t ride in Secret Service SUVs.
The month Joe Biden was elected after firmly vowing to strangle U.S. reliance on fossil fuels, the national average gallon price was $2.10 based on the national energy independence constructed by Donald Trump.
By the time Biden took office two months later, it had jumped to $2.37. Biden halted new oil leases and canceled others while killing the Keystone XL pipeline, and then strangely endorsed Putin’s undersea NordStream 2 gas pipeline to Europe.
A year later on the eve of Russia’s invasion, Americans were paying $3.51 a gallon for gas.
Today the national average is passing $5.00, well on the way to the $7 per gallon price Biden suggested during the presidential campaign as his initial goal to stifle American reliance on oil and force acceptance of electric vehicles.
To give the appearance of responding to consumer outrage over gas prices, as crucial midterm elections loom, Biden authorized daily draw-downs from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that Trump had filled to capacity through purchases at low prices. The SPR was designed for true global energy emergencies, not election year expediency.
Of course, Biden’s photo-op gimmick did nothing to affect prices. But he is reducing the nation’s energy safety net by one million barrels a day. That’s about 42 million liquid gallons every 24 hours.
European Union members say they will end imports of Russian oil by year’s end in “orderly fashion,” a calculated calendar cushion full of hope the war ends by then, one way or another.
Biden, who has pronounced Saudi Arabia a “pariah” nation, will travel there next month to beg for increased Saudi oil production that Biden has curtailed at home. Arabs are meticulously courteous to guests, but their inner thoughts over such a self-serving appeal would be interesting.
The global price of oil has jumped from $92 a barrel just before the invasion to $122 a barrel at the end of last week.
It is not terribly difficult for those of us pumping a $90 or $100 tank of gas to calculate the lack of interest Saudis would politely have in boosting production to slash their own oil revenues and help the autumn political prospects of a feeble U.S. leader who called them names during the last election.
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