Russia sent dozens of aid trucks into rebel-held eastern Ukraine on Friday without Kiev's approval (AP), triggering the Ukrainian government to declare the move a "direct invasion" on Friday. The trucks carrying food, water, and other supplies were intended for civilians in the city of Luhansk, where intense fighting has continued between government forces and pro-Russian separatists (Reuters), cutting off power, water and phone lines. The United States and European allies have warned that any crossing of the border by Russian military vehicles would be considered an invasion (NYT).
"Central to Berlin's diplomatic offensive is the view that outright defeat for Putin's proxies in eastern Ukraine would provoke an unpredictable reaction from the Kremlin that could take the crisis to a dangerous new level," write Noah Barkin and Richard Balmforth for Reuters.
"Any discussion that leads to a shred of success for Mr. Putin's nonlinear war would encourage the use of such tactics again. Mr. Putin must be shown that it does not work and that the West has the fortitude to block his subterfuge," writes the Washington Post.
"Moscow's humanitarian convoy is thus not a piece of a larger, thought-through play, but a gambit—a way for Mr Putin to regain the initiative in the crisis and to shift the conversation from questions over who shot down the Malaysia Airlines jet in July to the genuinely awful humanitarian situation in the east," writes the Economist.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Pakistani Talks to End Protests Called Off
Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan called off talks with the government that were aimed at ending the anti-government protests overtaking the capital of Islamabad for the past week. Negotiations to end the standoff began on Wednesday, but made little headway (AFP).
CFR's Dan Markey talks to Aqil Shah about the Pakistani military's contentious relationship with its civilian government.
INDIA: A new poll showed that more than seventy percent of Indians are satisfied with the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi (IndiaToday), who took office almost three months ago.
U.S. Airstrikes Continue
U.S. aircraft conducted six airstrikes on Thursday (al-Jazeera), continuing their assault on ISIS militants in Iraq in a push to maintain control over the Mosul Dam. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said in a press conference Thursday that the threat posed by ISIS was imminent, and that the war would be "a long contest." (DW)
SYRIA: The United Nation's human rights office reported that the death toll from the three-year Syrian civil war has risen to more than 191,000 (AP). In July 2013 the agency documented more than 100,000 deaths.
Senegal Shuts Border
Senegal closed its border with Guinea (AFP) due to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa despite warnings from the World Health Organization that such measures would be counterproductive and would prevent doctors from mobilizing to help tackle the crisis. Senegal also banned flights and ships from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
NIGERIA: Witnesses reported that northern Nigeria's police academy has been taken over by Boko Haram militants near Gwoza town (BBC), which was seized by the insurgency this month.
Erdogan Nominates New PM
Turkish president-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party nominated the country's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, as the next prime minister (FT). Erdogan recently won the Turkish presidency, which he has vowed to transform into a more powerful position.
A U.S. district judge ruled that Argentina's attempt to swap its U.S. bonds for debt governed by local law is illegal and cannot be carried out (WSJ). The hearing comes three weeks after Argentina defaulted on some of its bonds, marking the country's second default in thirteen years.
CFR's Shannon O'Neil discusses Argentina's debt woes in this op-ed.
UNITED STATES: Missouri's governor ordered the withdrawal of the National Guard from Ferguson on Thursday (NYT), signaling some order after two weeks of unrest triggered by the police shooting of an unarmed, black teenager.