The humanitarian crisis that is currently taking place in Ukraine is heartbreaking, terrifying and incredibly hard to fathom as an American. We watch as the news reports on what is happening as a result of Russia invading Ukraine, and many of us are trying our best to raise awareness and money for Ukrainians that have been displaced and have lost everything. However, there are unfortunately many people who only see how this conflict negatively affects us, in the form of raised gas prices.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Americans quickly saw an increase in gas prices across the country. Many people have dealt with the price increase by making jokes about not driving anymore or finding a different method of getting around. There are also many people blaming President Biden for the gas price increase without considering the fact that global conflicts can impact us here in the U.S. It’s important to recognize that there are a variety of factors involved that will also impact Americans at the gas pumps.
“What makes projecting this stuff so difficult is all these measures are so new and so unprecedented as a model,” said Julia Friedlander, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a former sanctions policy advisor on sanctions policy at the U.S. Treasury Department.
Russia is the second biggest world exporter of oil, and by refusing to do business with them means immediate economic consequences. Oil prices jumped to $139 a barrel after the Ukraine-Russia conflict began, the highest level for almost 14 years, while wholesale gas prices for next-day delivery more than doubled. Gasoline prices, in turn, edged up to $3.61 a gallon on average, as of April 11 — a jump of 33 cents a gallon since the beginning of 2022, according to CNBC. That price translates to an additional $75 billion of annual spending for households to fill up their gas tanks compared to the $3.40 cost at the end of January, CNBC reports.
These price increases came as the U.S. hinted at a ban on buying Russian energy, and subsequently looked to other countries to increase supplies, according to BBC News. The United States and other world powers have since agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserves, a move intended to reduce gasoline prices that have climbed rapidly in recent weeks, according to the Washington Post.
It is important to recognize how these increases to the price of gas will negatively affect households and working Americans across the country, but it is also extremely essential to understand why this is happening and who we may be helping by accepting these increases. These increases in gas prices are a minor inconvenience in comparison to what Ukrainians are experiencing right now. An extra dollar or two for gas is a small price to pay if it means no longer associating with a government that has killed thousands of innocent Ukrianians, while also censoring the truth of this massacre to their people.