A factory and a store burn after being bombarded in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, March 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the United States and its allies are having a “very active discussion” about banning the import of Russian oil and natural gas in the latest escalation of their sanctions in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine.

Asked about oil and gas imports, Blinken told CNN on Sunday that President Joe Biden convened a meeting of his National Security Council on the subject the day before. Biden and Western allies have until now held off on sanctions against Russia’s lucrative energy industry to avoid blowback on their own economies.

“We are now talking to our European partners and allies to look in a coordinated way at the prospect of banning the import of Russian oil while making sure that there is still an appropriate supply of oil on world market,” said Blinken. “That’s a very active discussion as we speak.”

——

BERLIN — Austrian energy company OMV says it has decided not to pursue any future investments in Russia and is starting a “strategic review” of its stake in the Yuzhno Rosskoye gas and oil field, which could result in its exit.

OMV said in a statement late Saturday that “Russia will no longer be a core region” in its business. CEO Alfred Stern said that “the war in Ukraine is a tragic and perilous situation that is causing great suffering for many and that we view with the utmost consternation.”

OMV holds a 24.99% stake in Yuzhno Rosskoye. It said that the review it has now launched “comprises all options including possibilities to divest or exit.” It said that it expects to take costs of 500 million-800 million euros ($547 million-875 million).

It said it also will take a charge of 987 million euros related to financing for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, whose certification was suspended by Germany last month, which “may be unrecoverable.”

The Austrian company has already ended negotiations with Russia’s Gazprom about the potential purchase of a stake in the Urengoy gas field in Siberia.

The Associated Press

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