Russia and Belarus extend military drills; Blinken pins hope on diplomacy – Look for $120 oil shortly

Troops take part in the joint military drills of the armed forces of Russia
Troops take part in the joint military drills of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at a firing range in the Brest Region, Belarus February 19, 2022. Vadim Yakubyonok/Belta/Handout via REUTERS

ENB Publishers Note: Oil will hit $120 shortly after the invasion. Even if Putin does not invade the market supply and demand information shows that $120 is still on the horizon, just later in the year.

  • Russia has up to 30,000 troops in Belarus, NATO says
  • Russia accuses West of whipping up tensions
  • Shelling in eastern Ukraine kills civilians, report says
  • Russian authorities say thousands evacuated from eastern Ukraine
  • UK’s Johnson says sanctions threat may not deter Putin

Sporadic shelling across the line dividing Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists in that region increased sharply since Thursday and continued on Sunday.

Blinken said all signs suggested Russia was on the brink of invading. Russia has repeatedly denied such plans.

“Everything we are seeing suggests that this is dead serious,” Blinken told CNN, adding that the West was equally prepared if Moscow invades.

“Until the tanks are actually rolling, and the planes are flying, we will use every opportunity and every minute we have to see if diplomacy can still dissuade President (Vladimir) Putin from carrying this forward.”

The mounting tensions over Ukraine have left diplomats scrambling to avoid war.

Blinken said his planned meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was still set to proceed this week as long as Moscow did not go ahead with the invasion.

An adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron said France and Russia had agreed that a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), with representatives from Ukraine and Russia, should be held on Monday. Poland, currently the OSCE chair, said earlier that at Ukraine’s request it was convening an extraordinary session of its council, which is dedicated to preventing armed conflict.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Sunday that she had decided to postpone a trip to France because of the situation and would immediately return to Canada.

Belarus did not say how long Russian troops in Belarus – estimated by NATO to number 30,000 – might now remain in the country, which lies north of Ukraine. Belarus Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin said the focus of the extended exercises was “to ensure an adequate response and de-escalation of military preparations of ill-wishers near our common borders.”

The Kremlin did not comment on the Belarus drills and Russian state TV news made no mention of the extension. The Macron adviser said Putin had reiterated during a phone call with the French leader on Sunday that the troops would leave Belarus after the exercises.

NATO says Russia could use the troops in Belarus as part of an invasion force to attack Ukraine. Moscow denies any such intention.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that Europe is a step away from war, which was something unimaginable not long ago,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in a TV interview.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, told Reuters the extension of the exercises underlined that official promises from Moscow should not be taken as binding.

Following a briefing from officials on his National Security Council, U.S. President Joe Biden planned to travel to Wilmington, Delaware, and stay there for Monday’s Presidents Day holiday, the White House said.

About Stu Turley 1967 Articles
Stuart Turley is President and CEO of Sandstone Group, a top energy data, and finance consultancy working with companies all throughout the energy value chain. Sandstone helps both small and large-cap energy companies to develop customized applications and manage data workflows/integration throughout the entire business. With experience in implementing enterprise networks, supercomputers, and cellular tower solutions, Sandstone has become a trusted source and advisor in this space. Stuart has led the “Total Corporate Digital Integration” platform at Sandstone and works with Sandstone clients to help integrate all aspects of modern digital business. He is also the Executive Publisher of www.energynewsbeat.com, the best source for 24/7 energy news coverage and is the Co-Host of the energy news video and Podcast Energy News Beat. Stuart is on Board Member of ASN Productions, DI Communities Stuart is guided by over 30 years of business management experience, having successfully built and help sell multiple small and medium businesses while consulting for numerous Fortune 500 companies. He holds a B.A in Business Administration from Oklahoma State and an MBA from Oklahoma City University.