BEIJING, June 23 (Xinhua) -- The White House on Wednesday slipped and admitted that it had imposed sanctions on Russian oil together with its European allies with full awareness of the possible consequences on global gas prices.
"We cut off Russian oil into the United States, and our partners in Europe did the same, knowing that we would see higher gas prices," U.S. President Joe Biden said in a speech at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Wednesday afternoon.
Biden's remarks attested again to the arbitrariness of Washington's energy policies, which have pushed the already soaring global gas prices amid the COVID-19 pandemic even higher.
On Wednesday, the U.S. average price for a gallon of regular gasoline remains elevated at 4.955 U.S. dollars, slightly down from the 5.014 dollars a week ago, but still much higher than the 3.069 dollars a year ago.
The price of gasoline shot up 48.7 percent from May 2021 to May 2022, according to the most recent data published by the U.S. Labor Department.
To cope with soaring gasoline price, many Americans have found creative ways to reduce driving. This also holds true for families that normally would not fall into the low-income household category.
For example, Vinh-An Trinh, a computer engineer at a fast food restaurant chain, has chosen to walk to school and pick up his children to save money on gasoline for a while.
Sarah Mullins, who teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology under The State University of New York, said she tried to use her car less and make things last longer, and pledged to be better about cooking meals and not to eat out.
"It's a fact, but I have a family and it's made an impact on our lives," said Mullins.
For others, especially retirees, inflation has hit them harder. "I have fewer expenses than I used to... Although I don't drive much anymore, it's harder to make ends meet," said Amy Neifeld, a semi-retired New Yorker.
Meanwhile, people in other parts of the world are also quickly feeling the stress from higher energy prices. On Wednesday, Brent Crude for August delivery still stayed high at 111.74 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
"Obviously, they (the United States and Europe) haven't taken into consideration the real impact [sanctions] will have -- especially for the poorest countries," said an article published earlier this month by Al Jazeera TV channel.
What is worse, gas prices are expected to remain high into next year, given such factors as disruptions to Russian oil supplies. The Associated Press, citing a report by consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said that next year, "crude prices are expected to average around 100 dollars per barrel," and "average global refining margins are expected to top their five-year average."
While Washington has repeatedly blamed Russia and U.S. oil companies for the gas price increases, ordinary Americans are not buying this rhetoric.
A survey by U.S. polling company Rasmussen Reports published Tuesday showed that 52 percent of the respondents believe Washington's policies are to blame for rising fuel costs, while 29 percent blame oil companies and only 11 percent blame Russia.
Besides, many experts worldwide have agreed that the sanctions imposed by Washington and its European allies against Russia are the biggest culprits in the latest round of price hikes.
"I think the whole purpose of those sanctions is created more for psychological pressure," the article by Al Jazeera quoted Iskander Lutsko, chief investment strategist at London-based financial institution ITI Capital, as saying.
"The U.S. and Europe, by imposing sanctions on Russia, they are at the same time shooting themselves in the foot," said Lutsko.
An analysis by Reuters published Friday said "tougher sanctions on Russia, among the world's biggest oil and gas suppliers," would likely make things worse for American fuel consumers.
"It's like kicking them while they're down," the analysis quoted Ellen Wald, an energy historian and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank, as saying. "Every time there is talk about sanctions, the prices go up," said Wald.
Washington's latest proposal revealed in mid-June to ban or restrict U.S. oil exports is believed to ramp up even more pressure on global gas prices. An opinion by The Washington Post noted that "if the White House banned or even restricted exports, that would reduce the quantity of petroleum available in world markets, leaving allies in a lurch and driving prices higher."
An analysis by Foreign Policy published earlier this month also called Washington's proposal a bad idea "further driving up global energy prices, or flood the domestic market, prompting oil producers to dial back supply."
The analysis went on to criticize the current U.S. administration's overall policy, saying "Biden's recent budget request put Ukraine at the top of the agenda but said little about fossil fuel issues."
Besides, Dan Eberhart, CEO of U.S. privately-owned oilfield services companies Canary, wrote in an article published on Bloomberg in early June that Washington's proposal of an oil export ban "would do little to tame soaring consumer fuel prices and could cause them to remain inflated for longer." ■