"Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine's acting president, may rail against police treachery but he has admitted that the security forces are 'helpless' in the east. It is not hard to fathom why. The police are paid little, unlike in Russia. Many were sent to Kiev during anti-government protests last winter and told they were fighting 'fascists.' Now these people are nominally their masters. The Russian media, widely watched and read in the east, plays up the activities of small far-right groups in Kiev and elsewhere. Many policemen openly sympathise with the anti-Kiev protesters," writes the Economist.
"Until now, Germany has shown little willingness to stand more firmly against President Putin, beyond sharp rhetoric. But as the crisis becomes harder to control, Germany may be forced into a tougher tone with Russia, and may shed its ambivalence about taking a more assertive role in the conflict. The [OSCE] hostage-taking 'gives a sense of immediacy. For first time, German citizens are directly concerned,' says Roland Freudenstein, deputy director of the Wilfried Martens Center for European Studies in Brussels. He adds that it also raises questions about the limits of soft power in this conflict," writes Sara Miller Llana in the Christian Science Monitor.
"In the face of this assertive Russia, nothing would be more dangerous than American weakness. So when President Obama, in response to a recent question about whether his declaration that the United States would protect the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea risked drawing another 'red line,' gave an evasive answer including the hypothesis that America might not want to 'engage militarily,' he did something profoundly dangerous. In Asia, as in the Baltic, the Article 5 commitment to a joint military response to any attack on an ally is critical. The U.S. treaties must be words of truth that sound 'like a pistol shot,' or violent mayhem could spread well beyond East Ukraine," writes Roger Cohen in the New York Times.
Report on Missing Flight Highlights Communications Gaps
Militant Attacks in Northeast India Leave Ten Dead
At least ten people, including two children, were killed in two attacks in the northeastern state of Assam. Police attributed the attacks to Bodo separatists who want an independent homeland; the victims were Muslim migrants (BBC).
CFR's Laurie Garrett examines some of the possible causes and proposes steps to prevent a global outbreak.
SYRIA: Syria's government and rebels agreed to a cease-fire on Friday that will allow rebel fighters to evacuate and bring the country's third-largest city under the control of forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad just weeks before he seeks a renewed electoral mandate, the Associated Press reports.
Kerry Pushes for Peace in South Sudan
South Sudan president Salva Kiir agreed to meet with his political rival-turned-rebel leader, Riek Machar, for peace talks as early as next week, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry announced from the capital of Juba. Kerry warned that the country faces possible genocide or famine (AP).
CFR's John Campbell blogs on the kidnapping of more than two hundred schoolgirls by the insurgent group Boko Haram.
Turkish Internet Censorship Draws Criticism
Protestors clashed with police who sought to enforce a ban on a May Day march on Thursday, but some critics of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan find his crackdown on the Internet more worrisome. They speculate that Turkey's policies could provide a template for other countries, while technology firms grapple with accommodating the laws in exchange for market access (WSJ).
White House Calls for Private-Sector Limits on Data Collection
The White House released a report on Thursday that recommends the government develop limits on the information companies gather on customers online. The report argues that regulations stem discrimination enabled by data, and recommends that privacy rights be extended to non-citizens (NYT).