WASHINGTON, June 1 — The United States on Tuesday hailed a European Union decision to scale back Russian oil imports and called for long-term efforts to further reduce dependence on Moscow.

“We applaud the steps by our European allies and partners to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and natural gas,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

He said there was “broad support” among US allies for “cutting off the strength of Russia’s war machine, and that is Russia’s energy market.” “The EU took an important step on that near-term path, but then there’s also a longer-term path that has less to do with the day to day and more to do with trends over time and the broader need to lessen our reliance on Russian energy.” He said that the European decision also was in line with goals backed by President Joe Biden on reducing reliance on fossil fuels for the sake of combatting climate change.

EU leaders agreed Monday to ban more than two-thirds of Russian oil imports, the toughest action taken by the bloc yet in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

But in an exemption to please Hungary, which is landlocked and led by nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the deal includes a “temporary exemption” for Russian crude sent by pipeline.

Biden banned Russian oil and gas days after the invasion, a politically easier decision to take in the United States which is not dependent on Moscow’s energy imports. — AFP