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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
March 5, 2014

Top of the Agenda

EU Offers Ukraine $15 Billion in Aid

The European Union proposed a $15 billion aid package over seven years for Ukraine, with $2.2 billion in emergency funds to help the Ukrainian government avert a default (Bloomberg). U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov plan to meet in Paris on Wednesday to discuss the crisis, while NATO and Russia will hold parallel talks in Brussels (Reuters). Former U.S. officials say that Moscow is unlikely to withdraw from Crimea, leaving the United States and Europe with a more limited strategy of preventing further Russian advances in Ukraine (AP). Meanwhile, Ukrainian men in Kiev are rushing to enlist in the army, eager to take up arms if war breaks out with Russia (AFP).


"Moscow's intervention is testing several fundamental norms of world politics: It challenges established principles of sovereignty and nonintervention, it raises the specter of a return to great power spheres of influence, and it elevates the principle of nationality over citizenship. Moreover, it has already exposed, yet again, the weakness of collective security in the face of destabilizing action by a great power," writes CFR Senior Fellow Stewart M. Patrick.

"Consider the irony that, while Putin's officials justified the invasion by citing the need to 'protect Russians in Ukraine,' Putin's police forces were arresting and beating Russians on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg for protesting against war. More than 300 people were arrested Sunday alone," writes Vladimir V. Kara-Murza in the Washington Post.

"Russia has a strong interest in nominally retaining Crimea as part of Ukraine. From the disintegration of the Soviet Union onward, Crimea, with its traditionally separatist leanings, was always a destabilizing factor. It served as a direct avenue of Russian pressure on Ukraine, and also guaranteed almost a million 'pro-Russian' votes in Ukrainian elections, ensuring the dominance of the pro-Russian eastern half of the country over the nationalist western half," writes Ruslan Pukhov in the New York Times.


Pacific Rim

China Ups the Rhetoric Battle with Japan

Chinese premier Li Keqiang, addressing the opening session of parliament, warned Japan that China would "safeguard the victory of World War II" as the countries remain locked in a dispute over islands in the East China Sea (FT).

This CFR InfoGuide explains the maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas.

CHINA: A senior U.S. defense official expressed doubt that a leaner military budget would allow for the so-called Asia pivot, but later clarified her statement to say the Obama administration was still committed to a stronger presence in Asia (AP).


South and Central Asia

India Vote to Begin on April 7

Parliamentary elections will begin in India on April 7, and will last nine rounds until May 12 to accommodate the 814 million people who had registered to vote, making it the biggest election in history (Reuters).

AFGHANISTAN: The Afghan government plans to dissolve a guard force that protects military and aid convoys, creating uncertainty over security as the United States and its allies withdraw (WSJ).

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


Middle East

Syria Proposes New Chemical Weapons Deadline

The Syrian government is on track to hand over more than one-third of its chemical weapons by the end of the week, and proposed to complete the process by April 27, more than two months after the original deadline (CSMonitor).

This CFR Backgrounder explains sarin, the chemical weapon allegedly used to kill more than one thousand people near Damascus in August.

EGYPT: The head of Egypt's military, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, said he would not turn his back on the will of a majority of Egyptians, the clearest indication yet of his plan to run for president (Guardian).



U.S. Increases Training Role in Africa

After more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States military is taking a training role in Africa to contain the spread of Islamist militants (NYT).

SOUTH SUDAN: The UN refugee agency estimates that more than 3.2 million people in South Sudan may need humanitarian aid by June, and urged states to increase help for those in need (UNHCR).



Economists Fear a Lost Decade in Europe

Economists at major investment banks are concerned that European Central Bank president Mario Draghi risks playing down the threat of deflation, the same mistake made by the Bank of Japan that plunged that country into a decade of malaise (Bloomberg).



Obama Requests Smaller Defense Budget

President Barack Obama's 2015 budget called for a $495.6 billion defense budget in 2015, $4 billion less than 2014. The spending plan reflects the "rebalancing" of the U.S. military after more than a decade of war (Defense One).

UNITED STATES: The CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate the possible monitoring of computers used by Senate aides who were preparing a report on the CIA's secret detention and interrogation program, McClatchy reports.

This CFR Backgrounder explains the controversy over U.S. domestic surveillance.



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