Politico’s Latest News on Biden’s Russian Oil Ban and the War in Ukraine

From Politico Playbook PM by Rachael Bade, Eli Okun, and Garrett Ross:

‘PUTIN’S PRICE HIKE’ — After days of pushing back on growing bipartisan support for a Russian oil ban, President JOE BIDEN today unveiled the administration’s plan to block such imports. The president made clear that he’s been in contact with U.S. allies about this issue and acknowledged that while the U.S. produces its own oil and can thus afford to block Russian energy imports, most European nations are reliant on fossil fuel exports from Russia and won’t fully join the Biden administration in imposing similar sanctions.

More importantly, Biden was clear-eyed about what this will mean for Americans: more pain at the pump. “I said I will level with the American people from the beginning. When I first spoke to this, I said defending freedom is going to cost. It is going to cost us as well in the United States,” he said, going on to say that gas prices will rise and vowing to do all in his power to mitigate that pain.

The president sought to preliminarily deflect the blame for this looming increase, labeling it “Putin’s price hike.” (Catchy!) He also emphasized the bipartisan support for such a ban on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, wrapping himself in GOP support for this step.

Latest on the War in Ukraine

— At least one humanitarian corridor appeared to work temporarily today as dozens of buses successfully evacuated civilians from the city of Sumy, which had come under heavy Russian shelling, per NBC. But then a resumed Russian barrage forced the evacuations to halt.

— And Ukrainian officials said Russians had attacked the evacuation route in Mariupol, per Agence France-Presse.

— By the numbers: Two million refugees have now fled from Ukraine, per the U.N., and 474 people have now been confirmed killed. (The real total is likely way higher.)

— Ukrainian forces holding strong: “The Ukrainian military claimed early Tuesday to have shot down three Russian fighter jets and a cruise missile, an assertion that was backed up by several loud explosions in the night sky over Kyiv — and a sign that its air defense systems and air force are still functioning nearly two weeks into the war,” NYT’s Andrew Kramer reports. The step back: Though it’s hard to verify many Ukrainian claims in the fog of war, “it is increasingly clear that Russia has sustained heavy losses,” NYT’s Marc Santora writes.

— The NYT announced this morning that it would pull all its journalists out of Russia.

— U.S. intelligence clocks Russian losses in the war at a staggering 2,000 to 4,000 dead already, officials told a congressional panel this morning.

SHARING IS CARING — The White House has expanded the range of intelligence the U.S. is allowed to send to Ukraine, following bipartisan congressional pressure on the administration to share real-time targeting information, WSJ’s Warren Strobel and Michael Gordon report. “U.S. officials said the classified information now streaming across secure communications portals includes detailed, tactical data on Russian troop movements that is designed to help Ukraine formulate a military response.”

DOUBLESPEAK ALERT — The U.N. has told its staff not to describe the conflict in Ukraine as a “war” or an “invasion” as part of its efforts to remain impartial and avoid “reputational risk,” The Irish Times’ Naomi O’Leary scooped. “Conflict” and “military offensive” are the U.N.’s preferred terms. “The language policy has fuelled concern that the organisation is going too far to avoid offending Russia,” O’Leary writes.

— China instructed its state media not to post “anything unfavorable to Russia or pro-Western” on social media, Axios’ Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian reports. And it’s censoring accurate information from the internet, aiming to leave Chinese citizens with a similarly warped understanding of reality as Russians are being told.


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