Thursday, December 7

U.S. Bans Russian Oil

Good evening. This is your Russia-Ukraine War Briefing, a weeknight guide to the latest news and analysis about the conflict.

President Biden today shut off the flow of Russian oil into the U.S. to punish Moscow for its war in Ukraine. The U.S. receives less than 10 percent of its energy resources from Russia.

Still, economists said the move could have potentially meaningful economic consequences in the U.S., pushing prices at the gas pump higher at a time when inflation is already running fast.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress had urged the president to take the step to ensure that President Vladimir Putin of Russia was not profiting from U.S. purchases of oil. Biden vowed to do what he could to minimize the impact on gas prices, which have hit a record high of $4.17 a gallon.

Joining the U.S., Britain said it would phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of the year. Russia accounted for 8.3 percent of Britain’s crude-oil imports in 2020.

The Russian invasion is turning into a watershed moment for Europe, which has long relied on Russia for much of its oil and gas. European leaders had assumed that the energy ties to Russia were a mutually beneficial business relationship.

But today, the European Commission outlined proposals to “make Europe independent from Russian fossil fuels well before 2030.” “We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us,” the commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, said.

Ratcheting up the exit of Western oil companies from Russia, Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, said it would begin withdrawing from its involvement “in all Russian hydrocarbons.” That includes an immediate halt to all spot purchases of Russian crude and the shuttering of its service stations in the country. Oil prices rose.

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From Opinion: The global economic impact of the war seems unlikely to be as bad as the oil shocks that roiled the world economy in the 1970s, Paul Krugman writes.

Russian forces are making small advances on multiple fronts, apparently aiming for a critical target in central Ukraine: the strategic city of Dnipro.

One aim of recent advances appears to be uniting three groups of Russian forces: troops in the south coming from Crimea, troops moving southeast from near Kharkiv and Russia-backed separatists pushing the front line in the Donbas region.

Our correspondent Michael Schwirtz was in Dnipro last weekend, and he saw residents preparing for an attack, stacking sand bags and laying metal tank barricades at all city entrances. He met a musician who had handed in his guitar for a rifle, saying, “I’m a soldier now.”

The New York Times is temporarily removing its journalists from Russia in the wake of harsh new legislation that effectively outlaws independent reporting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Other outlets, including Bloomberg News, have also suspended journalistic operations in Russia in response to the new law, which imposes potential prison sentences on reporters who describe the invasion as a “war,” among other measures. Today, the BBC resumed broadcasts from Russia, days after suspending them because of the law.

“We have had reporters there continuously since 1921, with one or two short interruptions due to visa hiccoughs,” tweeted Neil MacFarquhar, a former Moscow bureau chief for The Times. “Not Stalin, not the Cold War, nothing drove us out.”

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The Times continues to report from Ukraine and other areas that have been drawn into the crisis.

In Ukraine

  • These photographs from Tyler Hicks show the devastation from a Russian cruise-missile attack on Ukrainian troop barracks in the southern city of Mykolaiv.

  • New satellite imagery of Vinnytsia Airport in western Ukraine shows damage from a Russian missile attack.

  • One million children have fled Ukraine in less than two weeks of war, UNICEF said.

  • Ukraine’s health care system continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic during the war. Only one-third of people over 60 are fully vaccinated.

In Russia

Around the world

We also recommend:

  • Fiona Hill, a former U.S. national security official, discusses Putin’s strategy on “The Ezra Klein Show.”

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