Omar Says She’ll Vote Against Russian Oil Ban, Citing Impact on Russians

  • The House is expected to vote on a bill to ban Russian oil and expand sanctions on the country.
  • Omar says she’ll vote against it, and has been a rare Democratic voice critiquing the US response.
  • “I think ultimately, this is not going to end well for the actual people of Russia,” she said.

Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota says she will vote against a forthcoming bill that would ban the importation of Russian oil and levy further sanctions against Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine.

“That’s not only going to have a devastating impact on the people of Russia, but on Europe as well,” Omar said in an interview on “Rising” on The Hill TV. “When we’re having these conversations, they can’t be about just the immediate, gratifying response that we want to come up with.”

President Joe Biden on Tuesday banned US imports of Russian oil, liquefied natural gas, and coal after coming under pressure from Congress to do so, declaring that the US “will not be subsidizing Putin’s war.” The UK similarly announced on Tuesday that it will phase out Russian oil and gas imports by the end of 2022. The bans will likely raise gas prices, which reached an average of $4.17 per gallon in the US on Tuesday.

The House is working on a broader bill to do the same thing, and the body is expected to vote on that legislation on Tuesday night.

As of Tuesday afternoon, no text had yet been released, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues that the legislation would include a “review” of Russia’s access to the World Trade Organization as well as “explore how we can further diminish Russia in the global economy.” The bill would also include an expansion of the Magnitsky Act, which allows the US to sanction entities that it deems to be human rights violators.

“That legislation does not just have a ban on oil, but it has other undesirable sanctions that I will not be supporting,” said Omar.

“Whether it is politically or morally, we have to think about what this means a year from now, what this means two years, three years from now,” she continued. “I think ultimately, this is not going to end well, for the actual people of Russia, and it’s not going to end well, for the people of Europe as well.”

It was unclear exactly what Omar meant in her reference to the people of Europe, and her office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. However, much of Europe is far more dependent on Russian energy than the United States.

“Look, I support sanctions on Putin and his allies,” said Omar. “But do I think that the broad-based sanctions that we are imposing on Russia is going to have a devastating impact on Putin? No. I think they’re going to have a devastating impact on the people.”

She later referenced ongoing sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran that are designed to put pressure on leaders but have failed to do so.

“I think that there has to be a balancing act, and we can’t continue to deploy the same playbook that has failed us over and over again,” Omar said.

Omar also criticized the administration amid reports that the US is looking to repair relations with Saudi Arabia and encourages it to pump more oil as it bans Russian oil.

“I hardly see a principled stance here, right?” she said. “If our issue is that we are unwilling to buy oil from a dictator, who is waging a war on a weaker country, I can hardly see where the principle is in going to Saudi Arabia and cozying up to another tyrant.”

Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a bombing campaign against the worst country of Yemen since 2015. The United Nations has called the situation in Yemen “the world’s humanitarian crisis.”

Omar, a member of the progressive “Squad,” has long been an outspoken voice on foreign policy who’s often found herself at odds even with Democratic colleagues. In September, she was one of just a handful of House members to vote against an additional $1 billion dollars for Israel’s Iron Dome system, citing Israeli human rights abuses.

Earlier on Tuesday, Omar said on Twitter that flooding Ukraine with American weapons would be “unpredictable and “likely disastrous.” She later defended herself by saying that “criticizing and questioning is my job as a leader and a member of Congress.”

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