American drivers will have to endure high gas prices for “as long as it takes” for Ukraine to defeat Russia’s invasion, President Biden told reporters in Spain Thursday.
At the conclusion of this week’s NATO summit in Madrid, the president was asked by New York Times reporter Jim Tankersley about the surging price of oil as a result of Western sanctions on Russia in response to its Feb. 24 assault.
“The war has pushed prices up. [Oil] could go as high as $200 a barrel, some analysts think,” Tankersley said. “How long is it fair to expect American drivers and drivers around the world to pay that premium for this war?”
“As long as it takes,” Biden answered. “Russia cannot, in fact, defeat Ukraine and move beyond Ukraine.
“This is a critical, critical position for the world,” the president went on. “Here we are. Why do we have NATO? I told Putin that, in fact, if we were to move [against Ukraine], we would move to strengthen NATO. We would move to strengthen NATO across the board.”
During his 26-minute presser, Biden also reiterated his administration’s stance that the spike in energy and food prices around the world is primarily the consequence of the Russian invasion, which has constricted wheat deliveries from Ukraine as well as oil and natural gas deliveries to Europe.
“The bottom line is, ultimately the reason why gas prices are up is because of Russia. Russia, Russia, Russia,” the president said. “The reason why the food crisis exists is because of Russia.”
Biden went on to defend his administration’s economic record, including by twice claiming incorrectly that inflation was lower in the US than in other developed countries.
“We have the strongest economy in the world. Our inflation rates are lower than other nations in the world,” he said, adding later: “I can understand why the American people are frustrated because of inflation. But inflation is higher in almost every other country.”
The 8.6% annual US inflation rate in May was the highest since 1981 and higher than the Eurozone’s estimated monthly average of 8.1%, Canada’s 7.7%, South Korea’s 5.4% and Japan’s 2.5%.
The UK’s annual inflation rate of 9.1% was higher than the US rate in May, but the US rate exceeded Germany’s 7.9%, France’s 5.8% and Italy’s 6.9%.
Biden also reiterated his call to Congress to suspend the federal gas tax of about 18 cents per gallon of gas, and requested states follow suit to help bring down prices at the pump.
“If we do these things, it is estimated we could bring down tomorrow, if Congress agreed and the states agreed, we could bring down the price of oil about a dollar a gallon at the pump in that range,” the president said.
As of Thursday morning, the average nationwide price of a gallon of gas stood at $4.857, a drop of about 16 cents from the record high of $5.016 recorded June 14.