Oil prices fell as trading opened Monday morning, a respite from the volatility seen in recent weeks as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continued.
Brent oil, the international benchmark, traded at about $107 a barrel, down about 5 percent. In December, it cost about $65 a barrel before Russian President Vladimir V. Putin started what President Biden called a “vicious choice war” in Ukraine. West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, traded around $103, down nearly 6 percent.
Oil prices, which rose last week as markets braced for US sanctions, are showing signs of leveling off. President Biden closed the tap of Russian oil to the United States on Tuesday as punishment for the war in Ukraine. He also banned the import of Russian natural gas and coal.
Biden had initially resisted calls for such aggressive sanctions against Russian oil, fearing they would drive fuel prices — a potentially polarizing problem in an election year. But as Russia escalated its attacks on Ukraine, it announced sweeping sanctions, which he warned would inevitably cause more pain at the pump for Americans.
“I said I would be level with the American people from the start,” he said last week. “And when I first spoke about this, I said that defending freedom is going to cost.”
According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of gas Monday was $4,325. That’s higher than a week earlier, when gas prices hit $4,009, nearly their highest level since 2008, but unchanged from Sunday.
Even before Mr. Biden’s decision, the United States imported only a small amount of Russian oil, representing less than 10 percent of total energy resources. But the move, designed to further isolate Russia economically, effectively prevents the country from benefiting from US oil purchases.