On Friday, President Biden signed into law a bill that suspends normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus. He also signed legislation codifying an executive order he signed last month banning the import of Russian oil, gas, and coal.
The Suspending Normal Trade Relations with Russia and Belarus Act strips the two nations of their “most favored nation trade status,” which paves the way for tariffs and other trade restrictions. The bill blasted through the Senate in a vote of 100-0 and overwhelmingly passed the House with only three Republican Reps. voting against it.
The votes demonstrate the bipartisan support for the US-led Western sanctions campaign against Russia. Also on Friday, the EU imposed new sanctions on Moscow that include a ban on Russian coal and other products. It’s estimated the new measures will slash 10% of the EU’s total imports from Russia.
Under the coal ban, the EU plans to wind down imports over the next four months. The sanctions are significant as the EU relies on Russia for about 45% of its coal imports, and the ban is expected to impact about $8.7 billion of Russian exports.
Responding to the ban, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian coal would be sent to other markets. “Shipments of coal, as Europe refuses [its] consumption … will be redirected to alternative markets,” Peskov said, according to Tass. “Of course, coal is still a very popular commodity.”
So far, the sanctions campaign has done nothing to stop the fighting in Ukraine. While Russia’s economy is taking a serious hit, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be unphased. In March, his approval rating reached 83%, up from 69% in January.