Gas prices were already on an upward trajectory even before Russian President Vladimir Putin announced early Thursday morning local time that a “special military operation” was underway across Ukraine. Missiles have begun to rain down on the tiny Russian neighbor, and with martial law now declared in Ukraine, citizens turning subways into makeshift bomb shelters, and casualties mounting as fighting intensifies, it’s anyone’s guess what happens next.
To be more specific, that uncertainty is around how bloody this all might get. And how long the clashes will last, to say nothing of what reactions we might see from other world leaders and governments. And lest you think this far-flung conflict has nothing to do with you? The price you’ll soon be paying at the gas pump might suggest otherwise.
Ukraine crisis impact on energy markets
Following the outbreak of hostilities, European gas prices quickly soared. Meanwhile, CNBC reported Thursday that international benchmark Brent crude futures surpassed $100 a barrel. It was the first time that’s happened in almost a decade. Also, the national average gas price in the US, as of Thursday, was $3.54 a gallon. That’s according to the latest figures from AAA.
Not only is that up from $2.65 a year ago — experts are also anticipating that gas prices will top $4.
Per Tom Kloza, chief global analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, Russia is the second-largest oil producer in the world, just behind the US. That explains why there’s fear that the fighting between Russia and Ukraine, as well as a move by the international community to isolate Russia, could drive up gas prices.
Biden remarks on Ukraine and gas prices
In a mid-day address from the White House Thursday, President Biden addressed reporters. And one of the things he talked about was the conflict’s potential impact on gas prices.
He spoke somewhat generically about working behind the scenes and essentially cajoling companies to keep a lid on prices. “American oil and gas companies should not exploit this moment,” Biden said. “I know this is hard, (but) I will do everything in my power to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump.”
In case you’re wondering why none of this is as simple as it sounds, though? CBS News’ Margaret Brennan broke the gas prices issue down thus:
“If you really want a nuclear option, you hit the things Russia exports … they’re the #3 oil producer in the world, #2 gas producer in the world. Why can’t (Biden) do that? Because we consume that product, (and the) rest of the world does as well.”
The Russia Ukraine war is live on social media
Meanwhile, the fighting continues. And as my colleague Chris Smith wrote earlier today, open-source intelligence accounts on Twitter have been picking up verified developments and providing context about the information received from the country.
Redditors on the WorldNews subreddit have been following the invasion from the early hours of the night. They’ve shared updates on air traffic above Ukraine along the way and the cyberattacks against Ukrainian government targets that occurred during the night.
As Russia bombed various military targets across Ukraine, more videos emerged on Twitter and TikTok showing the explosions in real-time. Similar clips and photos started showing the Russian troop movements, as they were spotted crossing the Ukraine border at various points and detailing their advancements.