White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday was pressed by reporters as to whether the Biden administration's refusal so far to ban Russian oil imports is helping to fund Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine.
In Thursday's daily press briefing, Psaki told reporters that the U.S. is looking to divest from Russian oil imports, but that it could take time.
''There's a policy process that is undergone for any decision that is made,'' Psaki said. ''Sometimes those move rapidly, and often there are a range of factors that are discussed as those decisions are made.''
Asked about sanctions on oligarchs hitting Putin personally, Psaki said: ''One of the big factors is, of course, the proximity to President Putin. We want him to feel the squeeze. We want the people around him to feel the squeeze. I don't believe this is going to be the last set of oligarchs. Making them a priority and a focus of our individual sanctions is something the president has been focused on.''
President Joe Biden, however, did not answer when questioned about oil sanctions before a Cabinet meeting on Thursday.
''Will you ban Russian oil?'' one reporter asked as the press pool was being taken out of the room, according to the Daily Mail.
''He said, 'No! Let's go!''' a Biden staffer replied as the reporters were removed from the Cabinet Room.
''No, he didn't.'' ''He didn't respond to anything,'' multiple reporters said, according to the Mail.
There has been a bipartisan call for sanctions on Russian oil since Russia invaded Ukraine one week ago, particularly from Republicans who have long criticized Biden for ''weakening'' domestic energy production and reversing former President Donald Trump's sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.
The Nord Stream project has been abandoned since Putin invaded Ukraine.
But the United States still buys oil from Russia. The amount is only 3% of total imports, USA Today reports, but that is still significant enough to affect gas prices in the United States, and to get Putin's attention if they are cut off.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when asked by reporters on Thursday, expressed strong support for a ban, saying, ''I'm all for that, ban it — ban the oil coming from Russia, yeah.''
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