Rep. Andy Barr: US Must Close ‘Gaping Loophole’ in Russian Energy Sanctions

Rep. Andy Barr: US Must Close 'Gaping Loophole' in Russian Energy Sanctions (Newsmax/''American Agenda'')

By Charles Kim | Monday, 04 April 2022 06:01 PM

Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., told Newsmax on Monday that the United States must close a ''gaping loophole'' in sanctioning Russian energy and not allow transactions through the Russian banking system.

''Some in the media have characterized U.S. sanctions against Russian banks as crippling. The administration likes to pat itself on the back for how tough these sanctions are, but there is a gaping loophole in these sanctions that have been levied against Russian banks and the Russian central bank and namely a loophole on energy transactions,'' Barr said on ''American Agenda.''

Barr said that while President Joe Biden eventually placed a bilateral trade embargo on Russian energy products, barring Russia from using petrodollars to fund its war effort in Ukraine, it can still get needed money through Russian banks when U.S. banks are involved.

Barr is sponsoring legislation to close the loophole, stopping the transactions from going through.

''What my legislation would do would simply extend these sanctions to these energy-related transactions,'' he said. ''That's where [Russian President Vladimir] Putin still is getting the bulk of the hard currency that he's using to finance this war. It's a state sanctions evasion effort, and we need to close that loophole.''

Barr on March 2 proposed the bill, which would limit transactions for Russian oil and gas producers that are financing the war, according to a press release from Barr's office.

''The Biden Administration's anti-American energy agenda has made the United States dangerously dependent on foreign sources of energy, resulting in a 28% increase in Russian oil imports since Biden became president,'' Barr said in the release. ''This, in turn, has enabled and financed Putin's brutal war in Ukraine and will continue to do so unless we take action to close the energy loophole in our sanctions against Russia.

''That is why I have introduced legislation to eliminate the ability for energy-related transactions to continue despite the Treasury Department's sanctions against Russian banks. It's time to strike a blow to the heart of the Russian economy and impose a real cost on its prized energy sector as long as the brutal war in Ukraine continues.''

Barr also called on Biden to allow U.S. energy companies to start producing more to end dependence on foreign energy.

''I am also calling on President Biden to stand up to the climate radicals in his administration and unleash American energy producers, who stand ready to flood the world with U.S. oil and natural gas, reducing energy costs at home for Americans and decreasing European dependence on Russian energy abroad,'' he said in the release.

According to Barr, the United States imported an average of 164,000 barrels of oil a day in 2021, totaling $64 million daily, a 28% increase over 2020 imports.

Barr's legislation would permit Russian energy transactions only when the proceeds are used for humanitarian or agricultural purposes.

Barr is on the ballot to seek reelection and faces challenger Derek Leonard Petteys in the May 17 Republican primary, according to Ballotpedia. The Democratic candidates are Christopher Preece and Geoff Young. The general election is on Nov. 8.

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