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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 27, 2014

Top of the Agenda

NATO Plans New Bases as Poroshenko Meets Putin

NATO's secretary general announced that the alliance will deploy forces at new bases (Guardian) in eastern Europe for the first time as it responds to the Ukraine crisis, a move that will likely trigger a strong reaction from Moscow. Meanwhile, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko agreed during talks in Minsk (NYT) on Wednesday with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that he will work on a cease-fire plan (FT) to end the separatist conflict in the east of the country, although he gave no details of what the plan may entail. Separatist rebels shelled a town in southeastern Ukraine on Wednesday (AP), raising fears of a counter-offensive on government-controlled areas of the region.


"In looking to negotiations to end the crisis in Ukraine, the West should first make clear what steps NATO and the EU will undertake to support Ukraine and, if required, how sanctions on Russia will be intensified if it is unwilling to reach a fair settlement. Without this clarity, Putin may be reluctant to accept that the endgame has begun," writes the National Interest.

"Ukraine doesn't belong to NATO, so the alliance is not obligated by treaty to deploy ground troops or air support. NATO could provide weapons, but the fight would be the Ukrainians to win," writes David Francis for Foreign Policy.

"Russia's conflict with the West over Ukraine will grow more dangerous. Tougher US and European sanctions won't change Russia's approach to Ukraine, because President Vladimir Putin is determined that this country will remain in Russia's orbit and eventually become the crucial addition to his "Eurasian Union", an economic alliance that now includes Kazakhstan and Belarus," writes Ian Bremmer for the Straits Times.



Abe Sends Message to Yasukuni Service

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe conveyed a message to a memorial service at the controversial Yasukui Shrine (AFP)—which houses World War II criminals—in a move that could prompt anger from its neighbors. China and South Korea have been angered by Japan's equivocation on its wartime past.

ASEAN: Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed to strengthen cooperation on new industries including healthcare and environmental businesses, paving the way for the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (Japan Times).



Afghan Candidate Pulls Out of Audit

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah withdrew his observers from an audit of votes in the disputed election, citing concerns over fraud (AP). The United Nations-supervised process is now suspended.

INDIA: India's Supreme Court said Monday that lawmakers with criminal backgrounds should not serve in government (Hindustan Times), a ruling that will likely put pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who campaigned on a pledge of clean governance.



Israel, Palestinian Factions Agree on Truce

After fifty days of war, Israel, Hamas, and the other Palestinian factions agreed to an unlimited Gaza cease-fire proposal brokered by Egypt (Haaretz). Under the terms, Israel will open its borders with Gaza to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid and construction materials. More than 2,200 people have died in the conflict.

CFR's Robert Danin highlights three things to know about the Gaza crisis.

SYRIA: The United Nations said that ISIS militants committed "mass atrocities" in Syria (BBC), including the recruitment of children fighters, after a six-month investigation.

The United States and Europe may have to work with the Syrian regime they have sought to remove, says CFR's Richard Haass.



UN Helicopter Downed in South Sudan

A United Nations cargo helicopter crashed in South Sudan (al-Jazeera), killing three crew members near the northern oil town of Bentiu, a territory that has seen much fighting in the country's eight-month civil war. Officials said that the helicopter appears to have been shot down.

NIGERIA: Nigeria closed all schools in the country until October 13 in an effort to stop the spread of the Ebola virus, which has killed five in Nigeria (The Guardian).

CFR's John Campbell discusses the spread of the virus to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in this blog post.



France Appoints New Government

France's new government (NYT), approved Tuesday by President François Hollande, signaled little change in economic policy that critics say have stagnated the French economy. Meanwhile, International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde has been placed under formal investigation in a French fraud case (France24).



Peruvian President Wins Vote of Confidence

Peruvian president Ollanta Humala narrowly won a vote of confidence for his latest government on Tuesday (WSJ), dodging a potential political crisis as he faces a charged opposition. A weakening economy and worsening crime issues have undermined support for the government.

LATIN AMERICA: The United Nations announced that more than fifty-six million people have been lifted out of poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years (BBC).



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