Joe Biden Stops Buying Only Thing Russia's Selling
How long until the gas station is closed?
The late John McCain once famously said Russia was merely a "gas station masquerading as a country." What happens when people decide not to fill 'er up no more?
President Joe Biden announced this morning that America would be banning all imports of oil and natural gas from Russia. So according to our back-of-the-napkin math, if there was one thing Russia made that was worth buying, and we stopped buying that ... carry the two ...
You may watch his announcement here:
“This is a step that we’re taking to inflict further pain on Putin, but there will be costs as well here in the United States,” Biden said in remarks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House. “I said I would level with the American people from the beginning.”
While gas prices will rise, Biden said he pledged he would do “everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home.” He emphasized that the move has bipartisan support in the United States.
"Putin's price hike." We like that. The Washington Post has a good roundup of all the things the Biden administration is doing and exploring, to try to protect America and indeed the entire globe from rapidly rising oil prices, while acknowledging that sometimes we have to do hard shit, and this is one of those times.
Quite frankly, it seems like pretty much everyone was behind this, and that Congress was going to bipartisanly force Biden to do it anyway if he didn't do it on his own. Congress is right this minute drawing up legislation suspending normal trade relations with Russia and banning energy imports.
“It’s a smart thing for the United States not to be sending $40-50 million a day to fund the war machine in Moscow,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said.
Kind of hard to argue with that.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked for this in that Zoom call this weekend that Marco Rubio jizzposted all over the internet. So before, where Biden may have been reticent, now, he is "fuck it" and kicking Russian oil out of America like it is a basket of fresh-mown malarkey.
Biden noted that this is happening right as we are just destroying the Russian economy with our sanctions, saying they have "caused the Russian economy to frankly crater." For how badly those sanctions are hurting, and how they're about to start hurting even worse, read Noah Smith. The short version, according to a Russian economist Smith quotes, is that the Russian economy is "double fucked, because most Russians don't know what's coming." It's about to hit their defense industry, big time.
What's just about the only thing helping Russia out, according to Smith? "High oil prices," he says, because that's just about the only thing they sell that people need.
So even though America only gets about three percent of its oil from Russia, this is a big fuckin' deal. Europe gets a lot more from Russia — about a quarter of its supply — and Biden acknowledged that Europe will have a harder time banning Russian oil. Germany, as usual, is being a bit of a pube about it. But! Europe did announce today that it was going to cut Russian oil imports by a whole two-thirds this year. That seems like a lot!
On February 24, the night Rachel Maddow came back from her hiatus because of how Putin's tanks were invading Ukraine, she gave a really good overview of just how much Russia sucks as an economy. She referred to it as "sclerotic" and "backwards," noting that it's "economically worse off than the Maldives and Palau," GDP-wise. She specifically noted that while Russia has a ton of oil, it has nothing more than a "totally non-competitive, un-modernized, technologically backward oil and gas industry to show for it." (This is a lot of what her book Blowout is about.)
MADDOW: But that's really all they have in terms of an economy. I mean, literally their entire economic output is oil and gas. And even so, their oil and gas sector is so lame that whenever they want to do something more complicated than sticking a straw into the ground in Siberia, they have to find some western oil company to come in and build the technology for them to do it. The one thing they have, they barely even have.
So we are guessing it's also kind of a big fuckin' deal that Shell announced today that it's very sorry for all the times in the past it's bought Russian oil (including last week), and has "agreed to phase out all involvement with the country’s oil and gas industry, which accounts for about a 10th of global oil supply." This, after Shell, BP, and ExxonMobil already pulled out of their business ventures in Russia.
“As an immediate first step, the company will stop all spot purchases of Russian crude oil,” the London-based company said in a statement. “It will also shut its service stations, aviation fuels and lubricants operations in Russia.”
Yeah, that seems like a big deal.
Here's that Rachel segment:
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