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How the conflict in Ukraine affects Hoosiers

Despite feeling a world away, one expert said Hoosiers will feel the effects of the Ukraine conflict in central Indiana.

INDIANAPOLIS — The conflict in Ukraine may seem like a world away, but experts say we'll feel the impact here.

"This will impact Americans, whether they like it or not, at the gas pump," said Michael DeGroot, an associate professor of international studies at Indiana University.

Experts say the threat of war, along with economic sanctions, will cause gas prices to increase, along with heating bills, too.

Russia is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the world's third-largest exporter of oil and gas.

"The potential is that things could escalate, and Russia could eventually throw in the towel and say, 'We're just not going to export oil,'" said Patrick DeHaan with Gasbuddy.com. "That's what the market is worried about and why oil prices have continued to escalate."

How high could prices go in Indianapolis? DeHaan said the switch to summer blend and annual refinery maintenance will play a role as well.

"It's not impossible that we could reach $4 a gallon," DeHaan said. "If not, it's going to get close. And at worst, it could shoot well over that, and we could be talking about prices maybe $4.25, and at worst, hopefully not more than $4.50."

DeGroot said there are other, less tangible implications, too, that will have ripple effects around the world.

"The big question is which way is Ukraine going to look? Is it going to be able to become a part of the west and join western institutions like NATO and the European Union? Or is it going to be drawn into a Russian sphere of influence, dominated by an authoritarian ideology?" he said.

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