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U.S. explores oil imports ban as Putin says invasion won't stop until Kyiv 'ceases hostilities'

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.

Netflix, TikTok join corporate boycott in wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks to U.S. Embassy staff in Chisinau, Moldova, on Sunday. In a television interview the same day, he said the United States and its allies are discussing banning the import of Russian oil and natural gas. (Olivier Douliery/Reuters)

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 co-ordinated 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," Blinken said. "That's a very active discussion as we speak."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House is exploring legislation to further isolate Russia from the global economy, including banning the import of its oil and energy products into the U.S.

In a letter to Democrats released Sunday night, Pelosi says the legislation under consideration would also repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus and begin the process of denying Russia access to the World Trade Organization. Pelosi says the House would also empower the Biden administration to raise tariffs on Russian imports.

WATCH | Sanctions send Russia's national economy into meltdown: 

Sanctions send Russia's national economy into meltdown

7 months ago
Duration 2:04
International sanctions levied against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine have wreaked havoc on the federation's business owners, stock market and overall national economy.

Additionally, Congress intends to approve the Biden administration's request for $10 billion US in humanitarian, military and economic support for Ukraine, Pelosi said, as part of omnibus government funding legislation this week.

Meanwhile, Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said Sunday the province could alleviate the global oil supply crunch. Alberta has some spare pipeline and rail capacity and can move more oil to the United States, Savage said in Houston ahead of the CERAWeek energy conference by S&P Global.

"We are the solution, not Venezuela and others," Savage told Reuters, an apparent reference to U.S. sending a delegation to Caracas last week to discuss an easing of U.S. oil sanctions.

U.S. and Venezuelan officials discussed the possibility of easing oil sanctions on Venezuela but made scant progress toward a deal in their first high-level bilateral talks in years, five sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Putin speaks with Macron, Erdogan

The French presidency said the call between Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday focused primarily on the safety of Ukraine's nuclear plants.

A French official said Macron insisted on the need to ensure that the International Atomic Energy Agency's safety standards are respected at Chornobyl and in other nuclear plants. He told Putin these facilities must not be targeted by a Russian offensive or caught in the fighting.

Putin said he does not intend to attack nuclear plants and agreed on the principle of a "dialogue" between the IAEA, Ukraine and Russia on this issue, according to the official, who spoke anonymously in line with the French presidency's practices. Potential talks are to be organized in the coming days, he said.

PHOTOS | An 11th day of conflict and life upended in Ukraine: 

Separately, the Kremlin said Putin told his Turkish counterpart that Russia's military action in Ukraine could be halted "only if Kyiv ceases hostilities and fulfils the well-known demands of Russia."

Putin has listed the "demilitarization" and "denazification" of Ukraine, as well as recognition of Russian-annexed Crimea as part of Russia and separatist regions in Eastern Ukraine as independent states, as the Kremlin's main demands.

According to the readout of Sunday's call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, "hope was expressed that during the planned next round of negotiations, the representatives of Ukraine would show a more constructive approach, fully taking into account the emerging realities."

Pope dispatches cardinals

Pope Francis says he has dispatched two cardinals to Ukraine, a highly unusual move.

The pontiff said Sunday that "the Holy See is willing to do everything to put itself in service for peace." The papal almsgiver, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, has been dispatched with aid, along with Czechoslovakian-born Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny, who is head of the papal office that deals with migration, charity, justice and peace.

Francis did not say where exactly the cardinals had gone, but he said they represented him and all Christian people with the message that "war is madness."

Referring to Ukraine as "that martyred country," Francis called for a cessation of violence, the establishment of humanitarian corridors and a return to negotiations.

"In Ukraine, rivers of blood and tears are flowing. This is not just a military operation but a war that sows death, destruction and misery," he said in his traditional Sunday blessing.

More corporate backlash

A growing number of multinational businesses have cut off Russia from vital financial services and technology products in response to Western economic sanctions and global outrage over the invasion of Ukraine.

Netflix and TikTok suspended most of their services in Russia on Sunday as the government cracked down on what people and media outlets can say about Russia's war in Ukraine. TikTok said Russian users of the popular social media app would no longer be able to post new videos or livestreams and they also wouldn't be able to see videos shared from elsewhere in the world. Netflix said it was suspending its service in Russia but didn't provide additional details.

American Express also announced earlier in the day it would suspend operations in Russia, as well as in Russian-allied Belarus. Globally issued American Express cards will no longer work at merchants or ATMs in Russia, the company said in a statement. AmEx cards issued locally in Russia by the country's banks will also no longer work outside of Russia.

And two of the so-called "Big Four" accounting firms are pulling out of Russia. KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers both said Sunday they would end their relationships with their Russia-based member firms. KPMG said it was also pulling out of Belarus.

The two other "Big Four" firms — Deloitte and Ernst & Young — didn't immediately return requests for comment Sunday.

With files from Reuters

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