Since the Russia-Ukraine war the national average price of gasoline has just surpassed $4 a gallon in the United States for the first time since 2008. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
March 8 (UPI) -- Average unleaded gas prices hit a record high of $4.17 per gallon Tuesday as crude oil prices skyrocketed amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, AAA said.
The figure is up from $4.07 a day earlier and nearly double the $2.77 recorded one year ago. The previous high of unleaded regular gas was $4.10 per gallon, set in July 2008.
The average price of mid-grade gas was $4.46 Thursday, while premium hit $4.74. Diesel was $4.76 per gallon, just shy of its $4.85 per-gallon record in mid-2008.
Prices are highest on the East and West coasts, with California hitting an average of $5.44 per gallon and New York sitting at $4.37 per gallon. The central Plains states have the lowest average gas prices, with Oklahoma reporting $3.72 per gallon and Texas at $3.86.
Gasoline prices have been on the rise for more than a month, increasingly sharply with Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 amid fears of a disruption of Russian oil imports to the United States.
The West Texas Intermediate crude futures, the U.S. oil benchmark, has also been on the rise, increasing to $130 per barrel Wednesday, the highest level since 2008. Brent crude, the international benchmark, also hit a record high of $139.13 per barrel.
Those fears were realized Tuesday when President Joe Biden announced a ban on all U.S. sales and imports of Russian oil to keep up economic pressure on the country.
"The American people will deal another powerful blow to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's war machine," Biden said.
"We will not be subsidizing Putin's war."
Biden warned "there will be costs here in the United States, as well."
"I said I'd level with the American people in the beginning. When I first spoke to this, I said defending freedom is going to cost. It's going to cost us, as well."
Biden said he'd do what he can to minimize the impact on gas prices in the United States and warned oil and gas companies against making "excessive" price increases and exploiting the situation.
"Russia's aggression is costing us all," he said. "And it's no time for profiteering or price gouging."
The International Energy Agency announced March 1 that it would release 60 million barrels of oil from the global emergency reserves to counteract the effect of the Russian invasion on Ukraine on global oil prices.
European Union leaders attend a summit at the Chateau de Versailles near Paris on March 11, 2022. Photo by the European Union/ UPI | License Photo