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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
September 12, 2014

Top of the Agenda

EU Widens Russia Sanctions

The European Union extended its sanctions on Russia (NYT) and rebels in eastern Ukraine on Friday, bolstering its blacklist of companies and individuals and imposing fresh measures against the country's oil and defense sectors. Moscow said it was prepared to retaliate (FT) with a new list of embargoes on imports of consumer goods and second-hand cars from western countries. Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops and Pro-Russia rebel forces facilitated a prisoner exchange (AP) on Friday as part of a cease-fire deal.


"The apparent Russian reprisals come right as Washington and Brussels are clamping down themselves. If fully implemented, the new restrictions to be outlined Friday would take aim at, among other things, Russia's future ability to offset declining oil production from mature Siberian fields with exotic new discoveries," writes Keith Johnson for Foreign Policy.

"A falling rouble and a Kremlin-imposed ban on food imports from America and Europe means that inflation could hit 8% next year. That may spur a level of social discontent which the war itself has not," writes the Economist.

"In short, Europe can do without Russian gas; it is Moscow that cannot afford to carry through its threat. European leaders should not argue themselves out of tougher actions to stop Mr Putin's military adventurism in Europe's east. Someone needs to point out that the emperor has no clothes," writes Matthew Bryza for the Financial Times.



Chinese Court Sentences Kunming Attackers

A court in southwestern China sentenced three people to death (Reuters) and one to life in jail for a knife attack in the city of Kunming that killed thirty-one people in March. The case (SCMP) had highlighted escalating ethnic tensions between China's Uighur minority group and the Han majority.

This CFR Backgrounder lends insight into the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which China has blamed for acts of terror.

EAST ASIA: Officials from Japan, China, and South Korea met in Seoul to discuss the potential (JapanTimes) of resuming an annual trilateral summit that ceased when Tokyo nationalized the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

CFR's interactive InfoGuide traces the history and origins of China's maritime disputes in the East and South China seas.



Pakistan Repatriates Captives From Libya

Pakistan's Foreign Office reported that Libya has released 226 of 300 Pakistani detainees (Dawn), saying that Islamabad was working on an evacuation operation to repatriate the thousands of Pakistanis stranded in Libya as a result of the deteriorating security situation.

INDIA: Indian prime minsiter Narendra Modi is stepping up privatization, agreeing to the sale of 10 percent (FT) of the country's largest coal miner in a bid to raise up to $7 billion from the sale of stakes in state-backed companies.



John Kerry Visits Turkey

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry arrived in Turkey (BBC) on Friday to seek aid in combatting ISIS in Iraq and Syria after garnering support from ten Arab nations. The trip comes after Ankara refused to allow the use of its southern air bases to launch attacks on the militant group.

The Obama administration's plan against ISIS raises questions about how the militants can be defeated on the ground, says CFR's President Richard N. Haass.

SYRIA: The Central Intelligence Agency said Thursday that ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria have roughly 20,000 to 31,500 fighters on the ground (IBT), a far higher figure than a previous estimate of 10,000.



IMF Could Expand Bailouts for Ebola

The International Monetary Fund said it was in talks to increase bailouts (WSJ) for Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia as the region's battle against the Ebola crisis has drastically reduced economic output and overwhelmed government financing. Each country faces between $100 million and $130 million in financing gaps.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: The Associated Press reported that more than five thousand people have died (AP) in sectarian violence in Central African Republic since December. The figure is more than double the United Nations estimate in April.



France's Hollande in Iraq

French President François Hollande arrived in Iraq on Friday to support the new Iraqi government, underscoring the country's support for the United States-led coalition to battle ISIS in the country. Hollande is also due to visit Irbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, to distribute humanitarian aid (France24).



Venezuela Bids for UN Security Council Seat

Venezuela secured the backing of Latin America and the Caribbean to obtain a seat (AP) representing the region on the United Nations Security Council. Caracas still needs to garner a two-thirds majority in a ballot of the 193 member nations at the United Nations General Assembly next month.

CUBA: Cuba's health minister said the country will send 165 healthcare workers to West Africa to aid the fight (Reuters) against the Ebola epidemic. The first workers will arrive in Sierra Leone in early October.



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