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keeping the lights on

Americans could see increased energy costs if Russia invades Ukraine, Harris says

Vice President Kamala Harris said Sunday that Americans could see their energy costs rise if Russia invades Ukraine, Bloomberg reported.

"It requires sometimes for us to put ourselves out there in a way that, maybe, we will incur some cost. And in this situation, that may be related to energy costs, for example," Harris told reporters at the Munich Security Conference before boarding her flight back to Washington, D.C.

She added that the Biden administration is "taking very specific … steps to mitigate what that cost might be, if it happens."

Americans are already chafing under high energy prices. A Bureau of Labor Statistic report released last month showed that the prices of gasoline and fuel oil increased by 40 and 46.5 percent, respectively, between Dec. 2020 and Dec. 2021. According to Bloomberg, Russia exports more oil to the U.S. than any other nation except Canada. 

Europe will also feel the pressure if Russia turns off the tap, and the U.S. could end up paying the price to alleviate that pressure. Last month, The New York Times reported that the Biden administration was working with "gas and crude oil suppliers from the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia" to ensure NATO would not be crippled if Russia shut off natural gas shipments. 

The vice president also shut down any speculation that Russia might step back from the brink: "Putin has made his decision. Period."

Harris met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Munich on Saturday. Zelensky told Harris through an interpreter that he is grateful for American support and that "the only thing we want is to have peace."

In a speech to the conference on Saturday, Harris warned that the U.S. and NATO would respond to a Russian invasion with "far-reaching financial sanctions and export controls," though she clarified Sunday that the U.S. will not impose sanctions preemptively.