‘Putin is the aggressor’: US slashes Russia trade status, bans key imports

Russia At War

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — President Joe Biden announced Friday the U.S. will move to revoke “most favored nation” trade status for Russia over its invasion of Ukraine along with banning several imported goods. The move is conjunction with the European Union and the Group of Seven countries.

“Putin is the aggressor,” Biden said. “With bipartisan cooperation, I’m looking forward to signing into law a bill revoking Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR). We’re also taking a further step banning imports of goods from several signature sectors of the Russian economy including seafood, vodka and diamonds.”

Biden said the U.S. and its allies are doing everything to “squeeze Putin” after three weeks of unprovoked attacks in Ukraine.

“He can’t pursue a war that threatens the very foundations of international peace and stability then ask for financial help from the international community,” he said.

Biden said he will also continue targeting Russian oligarchs as, “They must share in the pain of these sanctions.”

He reminded Americans that the U.S. will not join the fight, but says the country will make sure Ukraine has weapons, food and aid to save its people.

For PNTR status, each country would have to follow its own national processes, but stripping the most favored nation status from Russia would allow the U.S. and allies to impose higher tariffs on some Russian imports, increasing the isolation of the Russian economy in retaliation for the invasion.

U.S. tariffs on Russian goods vary, but many of the most important imports are either duty-free or would face a negligible increase in such taxes, Ed Gresser of the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., said in an online post. That includes imports of uranium, rhodium and palladium, king crabs and silver bullion.

Most favored nation status requires a country to treat all countries with that status the same. Members of the World Trade Organization share that status, though some countries have special privileges due to their status as developing economies.

Canada was the first major U.S. ally to remove most favored nation status for Russia last week.

Bipartisan pressure had been building in Washington to revoke what is formally known as “permanent normal trade relations” with Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has continuously pressed the U.S. and its allies to take further action against Russia.

Friday’s move comes just days after Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports, saying the ban would “deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine.”

However, the president said “defending freedom is going to cost,” so in exchange, Americans can expect higher inflation and gas prices.

Prices at the pump were rising long before Russia invaded Ukraine and have spiraled faster since the start of the war. The U.S. national average for a gallon of gasoline has soared in the past week and topped $4.31 Friday, according to auto club AAA.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, the convoy of Russian tanks has dispersed around Kyiv but the threat it poses has only moved, not subsided. Russian airstrikes around the country continued Friday with at least two Ukrainian servicemen killed and six people wounded.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

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