Biden blames US inflation on Russia sanctions, Moscow hits back
US President Joe Biden has placed the blame for the highest inflation in 40 years and the fastest-rising gas prices in the country’s history on Russian President Vladimir Putin, arguing that whatever financial hardship Americans feel is nothing compared to the suffering of Russians.
“There will be costs at home as we impose crippling sanctions in response to Putin’s unprovoked war, but Americans can know this: the costs we are imposing on Putin and his cronies are far more devastating than the costs we are facing,” Biden said on Thursday, after the US Labor Department released the frighteningly high inflation numbers.
Earlier this week, Biden also shrugged off responsibility for the surging prices at US gas pumps, insisting he “can’t do much” about the skyrocketing cost of fuel because Putin had given him no choice but to ban the import of Russian oil and gas.
But Putin has argued that Washington is attempting to pass off its economic failures as being down to Russia, and pointed out that his country supplies a comparatively paltry amount of oil and gas to the US and thus couldn’t be blamed for any shortages.
“Supplies of Russian oil, say, to the American market do not exceed 3%. This is a negligible amount. And their prices are growing. We have absolutely nothing to do with it,” he said on Thursday. “They just hide behind these decisions in order to deceive once again their own population.”
While Biden declared victory over Covid-19 – which has caused its own share of economic troubles – at the State of the Union address earlier this month, the combination of galloping inflation and soaring gas prices had left much of the nation in dire financial straits long before the current round of sanctions was imposed on Russia, leaving Biden’s approval rating underwater. The inflation numbers released on Thursday show the marker is up 7.9% year over year by the Labor Department’s calculations – the largest increase since July 1981. However, the figures are from February, before the ban on Russian energy was imposed.