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Reporter grills Psaki over admin refusing to stop buying Russian oil: 'Aren’t we financing the war?'

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was confronted Thursday over continued American dependence on Russian oil, which seemingly contradicts sanctions meant to deter Russia from continuing its war in Ukraine.

The Biden administration has repeatedly said that cutting off Russian oil imports will not be part of American sanctions against Moscow.

What happened?

During the daily press briefing, Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich asked Psaki plainly whether Americans are helping Russia finance its war against Ukraine by continuing to buy Russian oil.

"As long as we’re buying Russian oil, though, aren’t we financing the war?" Heinrich asked.

In response, Psaki downplayed the seriousness of the issue and said what matters is minimizing the impact of sanctions on Americans.

"Well, Jacqui, again, it’s only about 10% of what we’re importing," she said. "I’ve not made any announcement about any decision on that front, but our objective here and our focus is making sure that any step we take maximizes the impact on President Putin and minimizes it on the American people. And anyone who’s calling for an end to the carve-out should be clear that that would raise prices."

According to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the U.S. imported about 700,000 barrels of crude oil and other petroleum products from Russia per day on average in 2021.

That means the U.S. sends tens of millions of dollars to Russia each day, and by continuing to buy Russian oil, American tax dollars will undoubtedly help Putin wage his war to take over Ukraine.

'We Can Talk About It More Tomorrow When You Learn More': Psaki Has Tense Exchange With Fox Reporter www.youtube.com

Earlier in the press briefing, Heinrich grilled Psaki over America's energy problems, invoking several ways to increase American energy production and reduce reliance on Russia. But she was dismissed by Psaki.

First, Heinrich noted how President Joe Biden wants to increase domestic production of goods to reduce inflation. "Why not apply the same logic to energy and increase domestic production here?" Heinrich asked.

Psaki deflected and regurgitated an administration talking point that oil companies are not using 9,000 already-approved oil leases, thus dismissing the Biden administration's hostile posture toward fossil fuels.

"I would point that question to them," Psaki said of oil companies. "And we can talk about it more tomorrow when you learn more."

When Heinrich asked about the Keystone XL pipeline, which Biden canceled, Psaki correctly noted how the pipeline was never operational and would require years of work before it could benefit Americans.

When Psaki tried to positively spin the Biden administration's decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Heinrich quickly fact-checked her, noting how previous releases have not really lowered gas prices.

Then Psaki pushed "clean energy," something that would not solve the current growing energy problem and skyrocketing gas prices.

"What we can do over time and what this is a reminder of, in the president’s view, is our need to reduce our reliance on oil," Psaki said. "The Europeans need to do that; we need to do that. If we do more to invest in clean energy, more to invest in other sources of energy, that’s exactly what we can do to prevent this from happening in the future."

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