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US may block Russian aluminum imports

The Biden administration is weighing restricting imports of Russian aluminum as it charts possible responses to Moscow’s military escalation in Ukraine, a person briefed on the conversations told Reuters.

Such a move, which has not been finalized, would likely boost global prices for the metal used in a wide range of consumer products and could reverse a previous White House stance that such sanctions could wreak havoc on global markets.

“We’re always considering all options,” said a White House official. “There is no movement on this as of now.”

The Treasury and Commerce departments did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

The administration’s choices include an outright ban, raising tariffs to levels so punitive they would constitute an effective ban, or sanctioning United Co Rusal International PJSC, the company also known as Rusal that produces Russia’s metal, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the conversations about an aluminum ban earlier on Wednesday.

Rusal (RUAL.MM), the world’s largest aluminum producer outside China, did not immediately reply to a Reuters’ request for comment.

Russian attacks using more than 100 missiles have killed at least 26 people across Ukraine since Monday, when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered what he called retaliatory strikes against Ukraine for an explosion on a bridge.

“It’s brutal, it’s beyond the pale,” President Joe Biden said on Wednesday, a day after he pledged ongoing assistance to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Shares of U.S.-based aluminum producer Alcoa Corp (AA.N) were last trading up 5.1% in New York, following the report. Shares of Rio Tinto Plc (RIO.L), which produces aluminum as well as iron ore, copper and other metals, fell about 1% on Wednesday in London.