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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
March 3, 2014

Top of the Agenda

U.S. Weighs Russia Sanctions

The United States and its allies are considering sanctions on Moscow and whether to enhance defenses in Europe in response to Russia's military intervention in Ukraine (AP). Secretary of State John Kerry, who plans to travel to Kiev on Tuesday to meet with the Ukrainian government, warned Moscow that there would be "serious repercussions" to its actions. Russia pledged that its troops would remain in Ukraine to protect Russian interests and citizens against "ultra-nationalist threats" (BBC). In Ukraine's Russian-occupied Crimea region, the Muslim Tatar minority, which was forced into labor camps by Joseph Stalin and supported the uprising in Kiev, is now worried about its future with Russian troops on its streets (al-Jazeera). Meanwhile, Russia's stock market plunged 11.5 percent on Monday on fear of war in Ukraine, and global stocks slid on the same concerns (Reuters).

Analysis

"Why did Obama publicly state that aggression in Ukraine would trigger 'consequences'? Clearly he was telling Putin to recalculate the potential costs and benefits of an invasion. But Obama was ignoring a simple fact: Putin would incur almost any risk to avoid losing Ukraine. To put it another way: There are no consequences—none that the United States could credibly threaten—that would keep Putin from doing whatever it takes to hang on to Ukraine," writes CFR Press Fellow Fred Kaplan in Slate.

"Russia is confident there will be no Western economic counterattack. They believe the Europeans will not sanction the Russian oligarch money. They believe Americans will not punish the Russian oligarchs by blocking their access to banks. Russia is certain a military counterattack is out of the question. They expect America to only posture. Cancel the G-8? Who cares?" writes Ben Judah in Politico.

"European and American officials must be clear on the reasons why the international community should band together to condemn Russian actions. It is not because of the violation of national sovereignty—a concept imperfectly defended by Americans and Europeans in recent years—but because Mr. Putin's reserving the right to protect the 'Russian-speaking population' of Ukraine is an affront to the basis of international order," writes Charles King in the New York Times.

 

Pacific Rim

North Korea Launches Two Missiles

North Korea launched two short-range missiles on Monday into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, in what analysts say is a protest to the ongoing South Korean-U.S. joint military exercises (WSJ). The move is North Korea's second missile firing in a week.

CHINA: Authorities blamed Xinjiang separatists, whose members are mostly Muslim Uighurs, for a "slashing rampage" that killed twenty-nine people at a southern China train station on Saturday (AP).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which was founded by militant Uighurs.

 

South and Central Asia

Karzai Explains Anger Toward the United States

Outgoing Afghan president Hamid Karzai said he feels betrayed by an insufficient U.S. focus on targeting the Taliban in Pakistan and is troubled by the casualties of the twelve-year war, which he said was not waged in his country's interests in mind (WaPo).

PAKISTAN: At least eleven people died after unidentified gunmen opened fire and two suicide bombers detonated explosives at the Islamabad district court complex (NYT).

 

Middle East

Obama Urges Israel to Forge Peace With Palestinians

President Barack Obama is expected to tell Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his visit to the White House on Monday that Israel could face international isolation if it refuses to endorse a U.S.-drafted framework agreement for peace with the Palestinians (Bloomberg).

CFR's Robert Danin explains in this blog post that the Israeli-American summit will focus on negotiating tactics on Iran and peace with Palestinians.

SYRIA: Former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford gave a bleak outlook for Syria at a conference near Boston this weekend, and said the country will likely break up into multiple cantons (CSMonitor).

 

Africa

Dozens Killed in Boko Haram Attacks

At least seventy-four people were killed in attacks blamed on Nigeria's Boko Haram militants this weekend. Most of the casualties died in twin blasts in the capital of Borno state, Maiduguri (AFP).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the origins and radicalization of Boko Haram.

DR CONGO: The UN World Food Program said it has only $8 million of a required $48.5 million budget to provide assistance to food-insecure people in Democratic Republic of Congo (All Africa).

 

Europe

Russia Raises Interest Rates as Rouble Plummets

The Russian rouble dropped to a new all-time low against both the dollar and euro after the Russian Central Bank hiked interest rates to stem the decline as concerns mount over an expanded invasion of the Ukraine (BBC).

This CFR Issue Guide explores the crisis in Ukraine's Crimea.

 

Americas

Venezuela Protests Continue Despite Carnival Holiday

Thousands of antigovernment demonstrators marched in Caracas on Sunday instead of making a traditional trip to the beach for Carnival, in an effort to maintain pressure on President Nicolás Maduro, who has faced weeks of protests (Reuters).

MEXICO: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating alleged fraud at Citigroup's Mexican subsidiary, which caused the bank to reduce its 2013 earnings by $235 million (FT).

 

 

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