The political crisis in Ukraine will result in petrol and diesel prices increasing over the coming weeks, due to Russia's decision to send military forces into the Crimea region in the former Soviet republic, the RAC warns.

Petrol and diesel traders have begun stocking up to protect themselves from getting caught unprepared if the situation worsens, which will result in fuel prices rising due to tightened supplies. Oil prices will almost inevitably also be affected, which will in turn push up fuel costs further and raise forecourt prices.

British drivers have been enjoying a month of the lowest average fuel prices for the past three years. The low prices were a result of petrol and diesel retailers passing on savings in the wholesale market, which eased in the middle of January, to approximately £1 per litre for petrol and £1.29 per litre for diesel.

However, wholesale prices started to slowly increase even before Russian military troops landed in Ukraine; following the pound falling behind the US dollar – despite sterling being 12% stronger than it was in early 2013 – and along with declining oil stocks, prices inevitably increased.

From a driver's perspective it is really important that the pound continues to perform well against the dollar, as it may help to offset some of the inevitable increases in prices, said Pete Williams, head of external affairs at RAC. Fuel prices are always affected by major political events. We all also hope for a resolution to the situation in Ukraine, he added.