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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
March 4, 2014

Top of the Agenda

U.S. Prepares $1 Billion Aid Package for Ukraine

The Obama administration announced a $1 billion energy subsidy package (AP) for Ukraine as Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Kiev to show support for the new government. Russian president Vladimir Putin, in his first public remarks since former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich fled the capital last month, said there was no need to invade eastern Ukraine, but reserved the right to use force to protect ethnic Russians and to fulfil the request from "a legitimate president, Yanukovich, on military aid to protect Ukrainian citizens" (Bloomberg). Meanwhile, Russian gas producer Gazprom said it will remove a discount on gas prices for Ukraine starting in April (Reuters), and the United States said it suspended defense cooperation with Russia because of Moscow's military intervention in Crimea (AFP).


"The transitional government talks of being a 'kamikaze government', taking tough and unpopular measures, but that could put extraordinary stress on an already fragile coalition. To try and rush a program would be a mistake, as it would likely be underfunded and subject to conditions the current government cannot or will not stick to," writes CFR Senior Fellow Robert Kahn.

"There is a method to Putin's moves. The territorial disputes his actions create give Europeans pause in considering further integration of those countries into the European Union, NATO and other Western institutions. This leaves the door open for further Russian pressure to join Putin's Eurasian Union and to accept increased integration into the Russian sphere" write Stephen J. Hadley and Damon Wilson in the Washington Post.

"Both eastern and western camps had a chance at ruling, and both failed. In doing so, they showed Ukrainians that the challenge was not between one region or another, but between the corrupt at the top and the people, whatever region they are from. Politicians today are finally being asked for plans of action that will actually achieve things, rather than populist slogans or ideological myths," writes Natalka Sniadanko in the New York Times.


Pacific Rim

China’s Xi Broadens Graft Crackdown

President Xi Jinping, who took office last year, has expanded an anticorruption campaign that is now one of the broadest in China's modern history, positioning Xi as the country's most powerful leader in decades (Bloomberg).

JAPAN: A new study showed that descendants of the samurai and Japan's feudal ruling class are overrepresented in the upper echelons of society today (WSJ).


South and Central Asia

More Than 13,000 Afghan Security Forces Killed in Ten Years

Afghanistan's Office of Administrative Affairs said that at least 13,729 members of its security forces have died over the past ten years in the fight against Taliban-led insurgents (AFP).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the origins and resilience of the Taliban.

PAKISTAN: India and Pakistan are increasing their aid packages to Afghanistan as the two nuclear powers jostle for influence in Kabul before NATO withdraws its troops (Reuters).


Middle East

Abbas Pessimistic on Peace Talks

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said he could not accept the framework agreement that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry submitted to him, but would wait until meeting President Barack Obama on March 17 before making a final decision on continuing peace talks (Haaretz).

This CFR Crisis Guide explains the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.



UN Recommends More Troops for Central African Republic

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recommended deploying almost 12,000 additional peacekeepers to the Central African Republic in order to avert a "humanitarian disaster" (Deutsche Welle).

UGANDA: More than 400 Ugandan troops will be deployed to Somalia to protect UN personnel in the capital of Mogadishu. Al-Shabab militants attacked the UN compound there in June (Reuters).



Croatia Accuses Serbia of 1990s Genocide

Croatia told the International Court of Justice in The Hague that Serbian officials are "in denial" of genocide that it says Serbian forces committed on Croatian territory in the 1990s. Serbia filed a counter claim over the expulsion of Serbs from Croatia in 1995. A binding decision is expected later this year or in early 2015 (BBC).



UN Urges Venezuela Dialogue

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Venezuelan leaders to engage in dialogue with protestors and the opposition. The country's foreign minister, who met with Ban in Geneva, said Venezuela is the victim of a "psychological war" aimed to "justify foreign intervention" (BBC).

UNITED STATES: Jurors in New York got their first look at Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who will be tried on charges of conspiring to kill Americans (al-Jazeera).



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