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The US Congress voted on Thursday to revoke “most favoured nation” trade status given to Russia, and ban the importation of oil, in a move to further intensify the economic pain imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
The Senate overwhelmingly voted 100-0 in favour of the measure to revoke Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status from both Russia and its ally Belarus. It also voted by a 100-0 count in support of the energy measure, reported Reuters.
Following the approval by the Senate, the legislation went to the House of Representatives, which also cleared the trade measure by 420 to 3 vote, and the energy bill by a 413 to 9 vote.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that US President Joe Biden supports the measures and will sign the bills into law.
The bill on revoking PNTR status enables the US government to increase tariffs on imports from Russia and Belarus while the energy bill puts into law the US president’s earlier order on imposing a ban on coal, oil, and natural gas imports from Moscow.
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The US Senate Finance Committee chairman Senator Ron Wyden said, in a statement: “This package is about bringing every tool of economic pressure to bear on [Russian President] Vladimir Putin and his oligarch cronies. Putin’s Russia does not deserve to be a part of the economic order that has existed since the end of World War Two.”
Late last month, the White House and European Commission had announced a new major deal that will see the US sending 15 billion additional cubic metres of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe by the end of 2022, in an attempt to help Europe wean off of Russian energies.
Earlier in March, the US imposed a ban on crude oil imports from Russia. It had also prohibited its citizens from funding or enabling overseas companies that are making investments in the Russian energy sector. Subsequent to these announcements, the US government told its oil industry to increase its supply to prevent reliance on Russian imports.