NATO Leaves Ukraine in the lurch

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No NATO or US troops will be sent to Ukraine. The Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, also NATO members — will now fear a Russian assault….reports Asian Lite News

NATO and the US have made it clear that no troops will be sent, leaving Ukraine’s military — far inferior to Russia — to hold off the assault alone. Few expect it to emerge victorious from what is almost certain to be a prolonged, bloody, and vicious war, Daily Mail reported.

NATO is expected to focus its efforts on stopping the war from spilling over into neighbouring countries.  Poland, a member of the alliance, shares an extensive land border with Ukraine.

The Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, also NATO members — will now fear a Russian assault. The alliance began moving its forces early Thursday, putting 100 warplanes on high alert in Europe whole moving more troops to the Baltics, the report said.

  Speaking in an emergency White House press conference, Biden called Putin a ‘pariah’ on the international stage and called on the West to stand up to the ‘bully’.  But he insisted the US would not be helping Ukraine with troops.

  He said: ‘Our forces are not, and will not be, engaged in the conflict with Russia in Ukraine. Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine, but to defend our Nato allies and reassure those allies in the east.

  ‘When the history of this era is written, Putin’s choice to make a totally unjustifiable war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger.

  ‘He has much larger ambitions than Ukraine. He wants to, in fact, re-establish the former Soviet Union. That’s what this is about.’

Oil Prices

Oil prices finished higher on Thursday with both the US crude benchmark and Brent exceeding $100 a barrel in intraday trading, as traders assessed geopolitical tensions over Ukraine.

The West Texas Intermediate for April delivery added 71 cents to settle at $92.81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after hitting a session high of $100.54. Brent crude for April delivery increased $2.24 to close at $99.08 a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange, after touching $105.77 earlier in the session.

Both crude benchmarks hit their highest intraday level since 2014, Xinhua news agency reported.

The oil rally came as the tensions between Russia and Ukraine have escalated into a military conflict overnight.

Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised on Thursday “a special military operation” in Donbas, and Ukraine confirmed that military targets across the country were under attack.

Market participants feared that the escalating Russia-Ukraine tensions would disrupt energy supplies, experts noted. Traders also parsed newly-released weekly US fuel inventory data.

  US crude oil stockpiles increased by 4.5 million barrels during the week ending February 18, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Thursday. Analysts surveyed by S&P Global Platts had forecast the US crude inventories to show a fall of 0.3 million barrels.

  According to the EIA, total motor gasoline inventories and distillate fuel inventories both decreased by 0.6 million barrels last week.

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