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Americans question the price to pay to defend Ukraine

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Jessup (United States) (AFP) – United States President Joe Biden promised to support Ukraine after the Russian military invasion, but some Americans are questioning the price to pay for such efforts.

This is the case of truck driver Jeremy Rakestraw, who had to sell his vehicle when his monthly fuel bill more than doubled to $17,000.

He now drives a company’s freight truck that covers his gas bills, but has seen his pay cut by high inflation in the United States for the past year.

“Nobody uses electricity or gas in my house and yet the bill keeps going up,” said Mr. Rakestraw, sitting in his truck in a parking lot in Jessup, Maryland, more than 30 hours from his home in Salt Lake City and 2.5 hours from his destination in New Jersey.

– Sanctions –

Mr. Biden unveiled a first salvo of sanctions on Tuesday and Wednesday, in response to Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognize the independence of the secessionist territories in eastern Ukraine and is expected to announce new economic reprisals on Thursday.

These measures, aimed at defending a country allied with the United States, are likely to further increase the price of fuel, which has already risen considerably in recent weeks.

“For each decision, you have to weigh the pros and cons,” said Abdullahi Ali, a taxi driver parked outside Union Station in Washington, where customers are much rarer than before the pandemic. “Something has to be done,” Ali added on Wednesday, hours before the Russian attack.

Rising cost of living has been chipping away at American morale for months and has eroded Mr Biden’s popularity Brendan Smialowski AFP

The rising cost of living has been chipping away at American morale for months and has eroded Mr Biden’s popularity despite higher wages and the return to work of millions of workers who lost their jobs at the start of the pandemic.

US consumer confidence, measured by a monthly survey from the University of Michigan, fell to a 10-year low in February. The average price per gallon of gas (3.8 liters) is $3.54, about a dollar more than before the pandemic, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

For truck driver Keith Wood, also stationed in the Jessup area, there is no particular cause for alarm given the strong oil and gas production capacities of the United States.

“We are supposed to be self-sufficient. I don’t see why prices (at the pump, editor’s note) would increase,” he said.

– Energy independence –

However, oil and gas are traded on a global market, which implies that the price of a barrel can soar or collapse independently of American energy policy.

“No single president is able to reverse market dynamics on his own,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of hydrocarbon analysis at GasBuddy.

Well aware of this situation, Moscow could threaten to cut off access to its vast oil production to force Western countries to back down on Ukraine, DeHaan predicts.

The Russians “would shoot themselves in the foot by limiting their oil exports, but the mere fact of considering this possibility could lead to a breakthrough” in their favor, explains the expert.

Fuel prices are a major political issue in the United States, with voters not hesitating to sanction elected officials and their parties in the event of a sharp increase.

Dipson Abass, a taxi driver from Washington, is ready to make more sacrifices even if the recent increase has affected his professional activity.

“The price of gasoline is nothing compared to the value of a human life,” he said. “Whatever sanctions are imposed on Russia, we have to go.”

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