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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
June 5, 2014

Top of the Agenda

G7 Warns Russia on Ukraine

Leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies warned Russia against further destabilizing Ukraine while meeting for a two-day summit in Brussels (FT). The G7 issued a communiqué that threatened to "intensify targeted sanctions" in the future but fell short of specifying triggers for another round of sanctions, which U.S. president Barack Obama had advocated. The Western leaders were meeting for the first time in seventeen years in the reconstituted G7, a move meant to isolate Russian president Vladimir Putin, but the summit highlighted diverging interests within the group. Putin is set to meet with the German, French, and British leaders at events commemorating the Allied invasion of Normandy on Friday (AP), and France is moving ahead with plans to train hundreds of Russian seamen to operate a French-made warship, defying U.S. calls against enhancing Russian naval power (WSJ).


"The rebirth of the G7 reflects understandable Western pique at Russian aggression in Crimea and obduracy over Syria, among other areas. But it would be a mistake to oversell its potential to solve global problems. The enduring lesson of the global financial crisis, which gave birth to the G20 in 2008, is that global stability today depends on coordination among all the world's leading players—advanced and emerging, partners and rivals. To navigate this new world, the Obama administration must learn to play on multiple chess boards at once. It must be nimble enough to work together with Russia, China, and other emerging powers, even as it holds the line against threats to the sanctity of borders or regional balances of power. In short, Washington must learn to compartmentalize," writes CFR's Stewart Patrick.

"Whereas Baltic leaders (and many others) believe that [Putin's] actions have upended the post-cold war security environment in a fundamental way, other European leaders see the actions as a temporary crisis that they hope can soon be resolved through negotiations and de-escalation. These different perspectives matter. A fundamental change in the security environment would require an enduring adaptation in Nato's security posture; a temporary crisis requires no such adaptation and, once resolved, would enable the resumption of business as usual," writes Ivo Daalder for the Financial Times.

"In 2006, the 28 members of the alliance agreed to spend 2 percent, a bare minimum, of their G.D.P.'s on defense. By 2012, only three besides the United States had met even that modest goal: Britain, Greece and Estonia. The burden borne by America has grown so disproportionate—from 50 percent of NATO defense spending during the Cold War to 70 percent today—that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has warned that the alliance itself could be in trouble," notes the New York Times in an editorial.



China Lodges Protest Over U.S. Tiananmen Remarks

Beijing has lodged a diplomatic protest over the White House's call for China to account for those killed (SCMP) in the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.

CFR's Elizabeth Economy rounds up competing perspectives on Tiananmen.

THAILAND: Thailand's ruling junta said that neighboring Vietnam and China have given their backing to the military government; Myanmar also said it recognized the new government (BBC).

Democratization has regressed in Southeast Asia, writes CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick.



NATO Defense Ministers Discuss Afghan Transition

NATO officials said the total training mission is likely to total some twelve thousand troops as the commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., briefed defense ministers meeting in Brussels on transition plans (WaPo). The United States also solicited special operations forces from NATO and non-NATO allies to focus on a counterterrorism mission (Reuters).

Mark Jacobson discusses adaptations in NATO's core mission for the twenty-first century.

INDIA: Newly installed prime minister Narendra Modi will seek to mend U.S.-Indian ties with a bilateral summit in Washington in September (Times of India).



Assad Reelected as Kerry Visits Beirut

President Bashar al-Assad won 88.7 percent of the vote with a reported turnout of 73.4 percent of eligible voters, Syria announced Wednesday. The vote, though widely disputed, signals his continuing hold on power (NYT) as U.S. secretary of state John Kerry made a surprise visit to Beirut, where he called on Assad's foreign patrons to bring the war to an end and pledged an additional $290 million in humanitarian assistance (Daily Star).

ISRAEL: The Housing Ministry on Wednesday announced tenders for 1,500 new units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Minister Uri Ariel said the move was a "proper Zionist response" to the Palestinian reconciliation cabinet sworn in Monday (Haaretz).



South Sudan Talks Falter

The latest round of peace talks, slated to have resumed in Addis Ababa, have faltered (Sudan Tribune). China has shifted toward a more proactive role in mediating the conflict, where it has significant oil interests, Reuters notes. Experts say this could signal a broader shift in its approach to Africa.

NIGERIA: Militants thought to be members of Boko Haram slaughtered some two hundred civilians in northeastern Borno state, officials and witnesses said (Premium Times). Villagers said the military ignored warnings ahead of the attack (AP).



European Central Bank Takes Rates Negative

European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, seeking to ward off deflation and stimulate the eurozone, reduced the deposit rate to -0.10 percent, making the ECB the first major central bank to use a negative rate (Bloomberg). The euro slid 0.2 percent against the dollar.

UKRAINE: Military bases in Ukraine's east fell to rebel separatists on Wednesday as border guards fled their posts, opening a corridor in which Russian materiel could be trafficked into the country and potentially expanding the conflict (NYT). Meanwhile, Ukraine officials mulled martial law in the east, a matter that President-elect Petro Poroshenko will take up after his inauguration Saturday (WSJ).



Venezuelan Opposition Leader to Stand Trial

Jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez is to stand trial on charges of instigating violence at an anti-government protest, a judge ruled (BBC).



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