Gas prices are hitting new highs. Here’s why — and how long the surge could last.

Oil was already at a premium coming out of the pandemic, with high demand and tight supply. The war in Ukraine has only made the situation worse. (Video: Lee Powell/The Washington Post)

Gas prices have hit record highs in recent months as reactions to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine diminish the availability of crude oil and create a stark imbalance between supply and demand.

The average cost per gallon of gasoline in the United States hit $4.37 on Tuesday, the highest price AAA has recorded since it started keeping track in 2000. The previous record was broken in March, when gas hovered around $4.30 and eclipsed the mark set just before the financial crisis in 2008, according to the price-tracking service GasBuddy. In the first week of March, prices rose by about $0.49 — roughly 14 percent.

Customers filling up their tanks are expressing frustration with the increased cost of commuting to work, dropping off their children at school or driving to visit family members. Amid the fallout from the invasion by Russia, the world’s top oil exporter, the economic pain is unlikely to end soon.

“You don’t often talk about the cost of milk or the price of a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread, but you do talk about the price of a gallon of gas,” said Jack Gillis, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, an association of consumer advocacy organizations. “It’s something that’s in our face on a regular basis. So it is pretty shocking to consumers.”