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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
January 22, 2014
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Two Shot Dead in Kiev Protests

Ukrainian prosecutors said two men died after being shot with live ammunition near the site of clashes between protestors and the police, a development that will likely escalate the country's months-long movement calling for the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich (AP). A third man died after falling from a high altitude. Yanukovich has begun talks with opposition leaders, but Ukraine's prime minister, Mykola Azarov, said antigovernment protestors brought "terrorists" into their demonstrations, and accused opposition leaders of "criminal actions" for calling for protests (Reuters). Tensions are rising in Kiev's Independence Square, where activists are forming self-defense groups and reinforcing barricades in preparation for a possible confrontation with the police (BBC).


"The feeling among the educated, pro-European protestors is that the West could have done more both politically and financially to draw in Ukraine. Economic sanctions against Yanukovich and his small circle of business associates would also be more help than sound bites from senior diplomats. In the absence of any concrete outside help, Ukrainians either have to go home and wait for the 2015 presidential election or choose a more resolute leader and resort to violence, something they have been reluctant to do so far. For a group of predominantly middle-class protesters, it's a tough choice," writes Leonid Bershidsky for Bloomberg.

"After two months of protests, many Ukrainians are tired of the public demonstrations and would like to see a return to normalcy – something that also happened in Egypt after the first few months of protests wore out their welcome. Putin is not exactly beloved in Ukraine, but lots of Ukrainians speak Russian and a smaller portion are themselves ethnic Russian, so the country is not exactly the mass of Westward-facing Russophobes that it is sometimes portrayed to be," writes Max Fisher in the Washington Post.

"Putin's extensive financial support has brought the country under Moscow's thumb. Now it is also following Russian guidelines on domestic policy. Ukraine is allowing itself to be 'putinized.' Kiev clearly didn't just get money from Putin, it was also given the task of undermining any form of opposition and any activity for the good of civil society that is connected to Europe," writes Bernd Johann for Deutsche Welle.


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Pacific Rim

Thailand Imposes State of Emergency After Violent Protests

Thailand's state of emergency in Bangkok went into effect yesterday to calm tensions before elections scheduled next month. Nine people have been killed since antigovernment protests began at the end of October, including a leader of a pro-government movement who was shot at his home on Thursday (Bloomberg).

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick explains in this blog post how Thailand's royalty is becoming more openly involved in politics.

JAPAN: Former Japanese premier Morihiro Hosokawa promised to abandon nuclear power if elected as governor of Tokyo, a position the could affect Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's effort to restart reactors after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster (Reuters).


South and Central Asia

U.S. Military Seeks Shorter Afghan Stay

Military leaders in the United States presented the White House with a plan that would keep 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014 and then withdraw completely before the end of President Barack Obama's second term (WSJ).

This Council Special Report assesses Afghanistan's prospects after the U.S. military drawdown.

PAKISTAN: Men on motorcycles in Pakistan killed three health workers taking part in a polio vaccination drive, the latest in a series of attacks on vaccination teams in the country (al-Jazeera).


Middle East

Syria Talks Begin With a Clash Over Assad

Peace talks began in Switzerland on Wednesday with a clash over the future role of President Bashar al-Assad. U.S. secretary of state John Kerry said that Assad can no longer govern the country, while Syria's foreign minister said only Syrians can decide who will lead them (AP).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the Syrian conflict and its global response.

GAZA: An Israeli air strike killed two people in the Gaza Strip, including a man identified by Israel as a militant who fired rockets across the border during Ariel Sharon's funeral last week (LATimes).



France to Increase Africa Military Presence

Jean-Yves Le Drian, France's defense minister, said the country will expand its military presence in the turbulent Sahel region in Africa with new outposts in order to confront terror threats from extremist groups like al-Qaeda (AP).

SOUTH SUDAN: Officials in South Sudan accused the United Nations mission in the country of allowing rebel fighters to enter UN camps without disarming, and said the government would not tolerate interference in internal affairs (Sudan Tribune).



Russia Hunts Suspected Suicide Bomber

Russian police in Sochi, which is hosting the Winter Olympics next month, are hunting for a twenty-three-year-old woman from Dagestan in the north Caucasus region who may be planning to carry out a suicide bomb attack (BBC).



IMF Predicts Higher Global Growth

The International Monetary Fund raised its growth forecast, saying advanced nations will pick up the mantle of growth from emerging markets. The IMF predicted the global economy would grow 3.7 percent this year, but warned that the risk of deflation could hinder the recovery (Reuters).

UNITED STATES: Federal prosecutors say that an Iranian-American former defense contractor has been indicted for allegedly stealing secret information about Air Force jets and military jet engines that he tried to send to Iran (WaPo).



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