By Nathalie Voit

U.S. oil prices surged over 3% to a high of $96 per barrel on Feb. 21 amid heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

U.S. crude climbed about 2.15% to $93.03 a barrel at 12:45 p.m. ET Tuesday. Brent crude oil prices surged even more, trading as high as $99.50 on Feb. 21 to settle at $97.00 on Feb. 22.

The news comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he would recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, two pro-Russian separatist regions within Ukraine, on national television Monday evening. Many world leaders believe the Kremlin’s recognition of the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine is a pretext for a full-scale invasion of the country, according to DW.

The Russian leader said he would send “peacekeeping troops” to the territories on Monday, prompting President Joe Biden to issue an executive order yesterday to apply economic sanctions on the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DPR) and “Luhansk People’s Republic” (LNR).

“Moscow continues to fuel the conflict in eastern Ukraine by providing financial and military support to the separatists. It is also trying to stage a pretext to invade Ukraine once again,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said, according to DW.

The President announced on Friday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent and that according to U.S. intelligence, an attack will be carried out “in the coming days.”

“We have reason to believe the Russian forces are planning and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week, in the coming days,” Biden said in a televised address last week. “We believe that they will target Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people.”

“Make no mistake: If Russia pursues its plans, it will be responsible for a catastrophic and needless war of choice. The United States and our Allies are prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory from any threat to our collective security as well,” he added, sending oil prices soaring.

According to data from Eurostat, Russia was the largest supplier of natural gas and oil to the European Union in 2021.

The White House is set to deliver an update on the crisis today at 1 p.m. ET.