"The outcome of Vladimir Putin's aggression in the Crimean Peninsula is not yet settled, but one thing is clear: He will have few indigenous allies, should he attempt to occupy and split away Ukraine's Russian-speaking regions. Instead of stirring pro-Russian sentiments, the actions of his military have advanced national unity among Ukrainian citizens and have led the country's new leaders to moderate their actions," writes Adrian Karatnycky in the Washington Post.
"History's dictators have generally tried to convince themselves and others that they were good people fighting the good fight. But Putin has no positive spin for his aggression—or his actions in general. The political culture Putin has created in Russia is based on the assumption that the world is rotten to the core," writes Masha Gessen in the Los Angeles Times.
"If Crimea actually secedes and agrees to be annexed by Russia, this could embolden other secessionist movements in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. When the United States and other European governments supported the independence of Kosovo, they were aware that it could set a precedent for other secessions, despite their arguments that Kosovo was a unique situation. … Just as the United States recognized the possible precedent set by Kosovo's secession, Russia may find that its support for Crimea's independence might trigger referenda or secession movements that it opposes, such as in Chechnya," says CFR's John B. Bellinger III.
Missing Malaysia Flight Strains International Cooperation
This Backgrounder explains the China–North Korea relationship.
South and Central Asia
Pakistan Seeks U.S. Military Equipment After Afghan Drawdown
The U.S. military may hand military equipment that are too heavy and costly to ship out of Afghanistan to regional allies, including Pakistan, as it withdraws from Afghanistan this year. Heavy equipment, including mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles, will help Pakistan combat the Taliban on its side of the border (WaPo).
Abbas Visits White House as Obama Pushes to Extend Talks
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Monday will meet with U.S. president Barack Obama, who is expected to press him to sign on to a framework agreement as a basis for continuing peace talks with Israel beyond the current April 29 deadline. Abbas is expected to resist some articles of the framework, including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state (Haaretz).
LIBYA: U.S. Navy SEAL commandos seized a tanker loaded with smuggled Libyan oil near Cyprus from militiamen who sought to sell it on the black market (FT) on Monday morning. The Libyan government's inability to control oil exports destabilized its transitional government.
Economists Caution on Sub-Saharan Growth
The IMF expects growth in sub-Saharan Africa to rise to 6 percent in 2014, making it second only to developing Asia in its pace of expansion. But global conditions—including the U.S. Federal Reserve's taper and a Chinese slowdown that has reduced commodity prices—may compound local conditions that are dampening expectations (FT).
Russia's arms exports have resurged since hitting a post-Cold War low, now accounting for more than one-fifth of the global trade—nearly that of the United States. Germany trails them as the third-largest exporter, followed by China, which displaced France, according to the Stockholm-based research organization SIPRI (WSJ).
Venezuela Protests Met With Both Talks and Crackdown