Uniting democracies has been the key international political trend of the last hundred years. Understanding this trend and enabling it to continue is the key to world political development.
New Book by Streit Council Advisory Board Member Kenneth Weisbrode
In Old Diplomacy Revisited: A Study in the Modern History of Diplomatic Transformers, historian Kenneth Weisbrode asserts that Old Diplomacyis not really that old—many of its concepts and methods date to the mid-nineteenth century—while the practices of New Diplomacy emerged only a couple of generations later. Moreover, "Diplomacy 2.0" and other variants of the post-Cold War era do not depart significantly from their twentieth-century predecessor: their forms, particularly in technology, have changed, but their substance has not. In this succinct overview, Weisbrode reminds us that to understand diplomatic transformations and their relevance to international affairs is to see diplomacy as an entrepreneurial art—and that, like most arts, it is adapted and re-adapted with reference to earlier forms. Diplomatic practice is always changing, and always continuous. To read more about this book, click here.
Kenneth Weisbrode, Ph.D., joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board. He is an Assistant Professor of History at Bilkent University, Turkey and has written and edited several books, including Old Diplomacy Revisited: A Study in the Modern History of Diplomatic Transformers; Churchill and the King: The Wartime Alliance of Winston Churchill and George VI; and The Atlantic Century: Four Generations of Extraordinary Diplomats who Forged America's Vital Alliance with Europe. He is also the co-founder of the Toynbee Prize Foundation's Network for the New Diplomatic History, and holds a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University.
New Book by Streit Council Board Member Richard Rosecrance
In The Resurgence of the West: How a Transatlantic Union Can Prevent War and Restore the United States and Europe, Richard Rosecrance calls for the United States to join forces with the European Union and create a transatlantic economic union. A U.S.-Europe community would unblock arteries of trade and investment, rejuvenate the West, and enable Western countries to deal with East Asian challenges from a position of unity and economic strength. Through this great merger the author offers a positive vision of the future in which members of a tightly knit Western alliance regain economic health and attract Eastern nations to join a new and worldwide international order. To read more about this book, click here.
At the Washington D.C. Summit on Cross Continental Cooperation, held by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy from November 4-7, Streit Council President Richard Conn Henry reviewed the history of the Streit Council, starting with Clarence K. Streit's self-publication of Union Now just prior to World War II, and continuing with the passing of the Atlantic Union Resolution in 1964. Henry also expounded his idea on a possible Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that, if adopted, would lead to a federal union with the European Union. His proposal can be found here.
Brendan Simms, Ph.D., joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board. He is a Professor of the History of European International Relations at the University of Cambridge, and is the founder and Chairman of the Board of the think tank Project on Democratic Union, which supports a full political union of the Eurozone. He also founded and is the President of the Henry Jackson Society, a think tank dedicated to fostering a strong British and European commitment to liberty; constitutional democracy; human rights; governmental and institutional reform; a robust foreign, security, and defense policy; and the transatlantic alliance. His publications include Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire 1714-1783 (2008) and Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia (2001).
Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News
Ukraine oligarchs get key posts in bid for unity
7 March 2014 – AP
In response to Russia’s military incursion into eastern Ukraine, the government in Kiev “has reached out to [its] oligarchs for help…appointing them as governors” in the heavily pro-Russian regions of the country. The government’s feeling is that the oligarchs’ “wealth, influence and self-interest in preventing further conflict [will] be the key to calming tensions and maintaining…control” of the country. Analysts called the move “a creative solution,” but also warned that the oligarchs may abuse their positions to promote their own interests so we must “be at least skeptical towards what they are…are trying to get [in terms of] personal gains.”
Europe fears gas shortages if Russia cuts off Ukraine
6 March 2014 – Voice of America
As Ukraine faces a Friday deadline to pay Russia a $2 billion energy bill, EU concerns about a gas shortage are increasing. According to Reuters, EU authorities convened a meeting on Monday to work out contingency plans in the event that Russia reduces or cuts natural gas flows into its Western neighbors. The EU reportedly has enough saved for less than three weeks if the weather becomes cold.
U.S. Announces New Sanctions in Ukraine Crisis
6 March 2014- New York Times
Sanctions are being placed on “officials and others deemed responsible for actions that have undermined Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” This executive order from the White House intends to penalize Russia for its military intervention in Ukraine. The restrictions add to bans currently in place for those who are deemed a threat to human rights and political sovereignty in Ukraine.
Ukrainians Answer Call to Enlist
5 March 2014 – Voice of America
Ukrainian army recruitment offices have seen hundreds of people, from retired officers to young men, turning up to enlist as a result of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent actions in Crimea. Ukraine’s army is on high combat alert and is actively calling up reservists. Hypothetically, all men up to 40-years old could be asked to join army ranks in the event of a full-blown war with Russia. Ukraine currently has fewer than 130,000 active military personnel, far short of Russia's 845,000. Ukraine also owns almost 10 times fewer tanks than Russia, as well as only one major warship and only about 230 combat aircraft. Russia owns more than 30 large warships and more than 1,500 combat-capable planes.
UN: World Powers Responsible for Failing to Stop Syria War Crimes
5 March 2014 – Voice of America
UN human rights investigators said on Wednesday that all sides in the Syrian civil war are guilty of crimes against civilians and the major world powers all bear responsibility for allowing such war crimes to persist. In their latest report documenting atrocities in Syria, they called again on the UN Security Council to refer grave violations of the Geneva Convention to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution. The 75-page report, covering July 15-Jan. 20, is the seventh by the United Nations since the inquiry was set up in September 2011, six months after the anti-Assad revolt began. While investigators were not allowed into Syria, their latest findings were based on 563 interviews conducted by Skype, by telephone with victims and witnesses still in the country, or in person with refugees in surrounding countries.
U.S. accuses Syria of stonewalling on chemical arms plants
5 March 2014 – Reuters
The Syrian government is “stonewalling” representatives from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and is refusing to comply with its obligations to destroy the facilities used to create its stockpiles of poison gas. The Syrian government had hoped to receive permission to convert these facilities into something “peaceful,” but Western diplomats demurred, not wanting Assad to retain “a residual chemical weapons capability.” That said, Sigrid Kaag, head of the joint OPCW/UN mission, has a more sanguine view of recent events, maintaining that the “continued cooperation [of] the Syrian government ‘has been assured…at the highest level.’”
Bosnia “People's Assemblies” Demand Change
5 March 2014 – AFP
Bosnia, which is crippled with a 27 percent unemployment rate, a weak job market, and an average income equal to $570 U.S., is faced with the pressure of responding to its protesters’ demand for government accountability and efficiency. Violent demonstrations and clashes with police have resulted in dozens of injuries as protestors seek better conditions such as higher wages and social security.
4 March 2014 – Voice of America
Ukraine's telecommunications system has come under attack via Russian-controlled Crimea. The mobile phones of members of parliament have been intercepted, while some Internet and telephone services were severed after Russian forces seized control of airfields and key installations in the Crimean region. The head of Ukraine's SBU security service confirmed the attacks on lawmakers for the second day in row in a news briefing. As much of Ukraine's telecommunications infrastructure was built when it was part of the Soviet Union, the system is particularly vulnerable to penetration by Moscow.
Big power talks on Ukraine crisis make little progress
5 March 2014 – Reuters
High-level talks on the Ukraine crisis – including foreign ministers from France, Russia, the U.S., Poland, Germany, and Ukraine – are ongoing. While little progress has been made so far, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius commented: "We are happy that this meeting in Paris allowed us get things under way. We agreed to try to find a peaceful solution in the coming days to get out of this crisis ... something moved in the right direction.” According to Reuters, the West wants to see Russian troops return to their barracks, international monitors in Crimea, and the creation of a “contact group.”
Pentagon boosts training, NATO air policing amid Ukraine crisis
5 March 2014 – Reuters
The U.S. will boost training with Poland’s air force and provide additional aircraft to a NATO air policing mission in the Baltics. As U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated today: "Across the administration, our efforts ... (are) focused on de-escalating crisis, supporting the new Ukrainian government with economic assistance and reaffirming our commitments to allies in Central and Eastern Europe."
Topic: Aid to Ukraine
5 March 2014 – Multiple sources
CNN reports that, after the U.S. announced that it would provide Ukraine with $1 billion in aid, the EU has pledged to give the government in Kiev “at least $15 billion…to help…stabilize its economy and finances and work toward political and economic reforms.” Reuters quotes European Commission President Manuel Barroso as saying that this aid package will unfold “over the next couple of years via a series of loans and grants.” Like the U.S. deal, the EU plans to provide additional assistance aimed at preventing Ukraine’s reliance on Russian gas from being turned into a cudgel by the Kremlin. The EU deal will bestow the “trade benefits [accompanying their nascent] association agreement…and will work on providing energy to Ukraine via ‘reverse flows’ of gas from the EU.”
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Strong Eurozone data take heat off ECB
5 March 2014 – Wall Street Journal
According to data released today, Eurozone business activity grew at the fastest pace in three years and retail sales surged, relieving pressure on the European Central Bank (ECB) to take extreme measures to stimulate the economy. Despite the positive news, however, many analysts expect the ECB to adopt less dramatic measures to boost lending in the common currency area.
Putin: Military force would be “last resort” in Ukraine
4 March 2014 – Reuters
Russian President Vladmir Putin eased market fears today after stating that he would use force in Ukraine only as a last resort. But tensions remain high as Russian troops fired warning shots in a confrontation with Ukrainian troops at an airbase in the Crimea and Russian naval vessels blockade the strait separating the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula from Russia. Putin denied that the troops with no national insignia in the Crimea are Russian, stating that they are “local defense forces,” and said he retained the right to use all options to protect Russians in Ukraine. Any Ukrainian government elected under “such terror” would not be legitimate, he added.
Topic: Ukraine-Russia relations
4 March 2014 – Multiple sources
Gazprom, Russia’s primary gas producer, is planning to terminate a discount on exports to Ukraine, beginning in April, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, according to The Associated Press, the U.S. has announced that it intends to provide the Ukrainian government with a “$1 billion energy subsidy package” that includes “energy aid, along with training for financial and election institutions and anti- corruption efforts.” Anticipating Russian resistance to this announcement, the aid package also calls for the U.S. to “provide technical advice…about [Ukraine’s] trade rights with Russia.” White House officials have said that this aid package is meant to supplement IMF support and to “insulate Ukraine from [Russian] reductions in energy subsidies” while helping “Kiev…reduce its dependence on those imports.”
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China attempts to strike delicate balance on Ukraine
4 March 2014 – Voice of America
While Russian officials have asserted that the Chinese government supports its actions in Ukraine, the Chinese foreign ministry has said that it respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The government’s stance is influenced by its trade ties to military, agricultural, and other trade ties to Ukraine – all of which would be endangered by a conflict in Ukraine.
Ukraine's Yanukovych asked for troops, Russia tells UN
4 March 2014 – BBC
Moscow's UN envoy claimed that ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych asked Putin to send troops across the border to protect civilians. At the UN in New York, the Security Council was offered a copy of the letter Yanukovych had sent, which described Ukraine as on the brink of civil war, with civilians being persecuted simply for speaking Russian. Ukrainian officials denied the claim, pointing out that an overwhelming majority of people in Crimea and well as in a number south-eastern cities in Ukraine's mainland speak Russian in their day-to-day lives. UK ambassador Mark Lyall Grant also rejected Russian allegations of terrorism and threats against ethnic Russians in Ukraine, accusing the claim of being fabricated to justify Russian military action and dismissed Yanukovych's letter to President Putin as “meaningless.”
Russian rouble hits new low against the dollar and euro
3 March 2014 – BBC
Russia's rouble has fallen to an all-time low against both the dollar and the euro following increasing political turmoil in Ukraine. The rouble fell 2.5% to 36.5 roubles against the dollar and 1.5% against the euro to 50.30. Stocks on Moscow's MICEX main stock index also fell more than 11%. The sharp falls came as Russia's central bank hiked its key lending rate on Monday to 7% from 5.5%. The Russian Central Bank reportedly sold up to $10bn (£6bn) of reserves to support the rouble.
Sochi Paralympics 2014: No plans for boycott – IPC
3 March 2014 – BBC
Athletes are not planning to boycott the Sochi Winter Paralympics in Russia despite rising tension in the region. Athletes from 45 nations are due to arrive in the city for Friday's opening ceremony, as Russia builds up troops in nearby Crimea. International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence stated that 575 athletes were expected by Friday.
Russian admiral issues ultimatum in Crimea
3 March 2014 – USA Today
Although a Russian admiral issued an ultimatum to Ukrainian military forces in Crimea to surrender, a Russian defense ministry spokesman denied that this occurred. British Foreign Secretary William Hague stated today that Russia now controls Crimea, and that the U.S. and Europe are now considering non-military action to reverse the occupation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that the occupation would end if the now-ousted Ukrainian President Yanukovych is permitted to stay in office.
After Ukraine incursion, U.S. moves to kick Russia out of G8
2 March 2014 – CNN
Russia is scheduled to host the next G8 summit in June, but all members except Russia have halted preparatory meetings in protest of Russia’s occupation of Crimea, Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry argued that the incursion “puts at question Russia’s capacity to be within the G8. Another senior administration official stated that the U.S. is working with other G8 members to revoke Russia’s membership.
Al Qaeda splinter group denies killing Islamist rival in Syria
2 March 2014 – Reuters
After being accused of killing Abu Khaled al-Soury, a leader of a rival faction who had connections to both al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri and erstwhile leader Osama bin Laden, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is on the defensive, asserting that they “did not order Abu Khaled's killing nor were [they] ordered to.” Their statement went on to add that its “decisions and stances of the Islamic State are only issued by [its] leader…al-Baghdadi…and…the Shura Committee,” denying the possibility of free agents and reaffirming the strength of their organizational hierarchy. ISIS is under threat from its fellow Islamists in Syria after rejecting an ultimatum from al-Nusra to accept arbitration or “face a war which would wipe them out.”
Merkel tells Putin Russia has broken international law in Ukraine
2 March 2014 – Reuters
In a phone call with Russian President Vladmir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel asserted that Russia has broken international law in Ukraine and urged him to respect its territorial integrity. Putin accepted Merkel’s proposal to create a “contact group,” possibly under the OSCE, to start a political dialogue.
Ukraine accuses Russia of “military invasion”
28 February 2014 – USA Today
Ukraine’s interior ministry accused Russia of a “military invasion and occupation” today, as Russian troops assumed positions around a coast guard base and two airports in Crimea. Checkpoints have been set up in the pro-Russian city of Sevastapol, although it is not clear who has taken control of Crimea’s parliament building and two of its airports. The now-deposed former President Viktor Yanukovych stated today that he is still the legitimate president but would not ask for military assistance from Russia to back his claim. He placed blame on “terrorists” and the West for the current situation.
Syrian civil war “horrors” lead U.S. human rights report
27 February 2014 – BBC
The U.S. State Department’s recently released annual global human rights report singles out Syria as a tragedy that “stands apart in its scope and human cost.” This condemnation comes as a result of a number of factors, including the spate of chemical weapons use that killed 1,429 and the ongoing conflict that has killed more than 100,000 and displaced millions. More specifically, the report denounces the Syrian government’s “countless crimes against humanity, [including] the torture and murder of prisoners [as well as] the targeting of civilians with barrel bombs and Scud missiles.”
Germany’s Merkel tells Cameron she cannot satisfy all Britain’s EU wishes
27 February 2014 – Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the British Parliament today that while the EU needs some reform, she will not be able to accede to all British wishes along these lines. She added: "Others are expecting the exact opposite and they are hoping that I will deliver the clear and simple message here in London that the rest of Europe is not prepared to pay almost any price to keep Britain in the European Union. I am afraid these hopes will be dashed." She did, however, express a willingness to back British Prime Minister David Cameron’s push to address abuses of the EU’s freedom of movement rules.
Eurozone lending contraction compounds ECB headache
27 February 2014 – Reuters
ECB measures to expand lending in the Eurozone have fallen short, and inflation is at a low 0.8 percent. Data released by the ECB shows that lending contracted in January compared to a year earlier, raising the risk that the common currency area will slip back into recession. The ECB could consider policy action to address this if the medium-term inflation outlook deteriorates and there is an “unwarranted” tightening of short-term money markets.
Topic: Ukrainian separatists
27 February 2014 – Multiple sources
The Crimea is Ukraine's only region where ethnic Russians are a majority, comprising approximately 60 percent of its population of 2 million. The peninsula was part of Russia until a mere 60 years ago, and as Ukraine's crisis increases the ethnic and religious tensions in the region, there is support for a return to Russia. Although it is illegal to openly advocate separatism in Ukraine, many pro-Russian organizations called for "bolstering Crimea's autonomy" prior to Yanukovych’s fall. Following the Presidents' ouster, the small region has been alone so far in challenging the new order. Separatists are attempting to exploit the chaos after the changes in Kyiv to press demands for Russia to reclaim the territory which Communist leader Nikita Khrushchev gifted in 1954 to Soviet Ukraine.
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Topic: Aid to Ukraine
27 February 2014 – Chicago Tribune
Stepan Kubiv, Ukraine’s central bank chairman, has formally requested International Monetary Fund (IMF) to “prepare a new financial aid program” that would help his country stabilize its flagging economy. He also stated that the interim government was prepared to implement its own “anti-crisis program” designed “to stop [the] capital flight” that has afflicted the country since protests began in November. Russia will “not stand aside” in the IMF negotiations, according to Andrei Bokarev, head of the Russian Finance Ministry's international relations department. This should be encouraged, says the European Commission, as relieving Ukrainian debt will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $35 billion.
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Denmark, Norway Reduce Uganda Aid Over Anti-Gay Law
26 February 2014 – Voice of America
Denmark announced on Wednesday that it will redirect about $9.1 million that was intended for the government of Uganda to Ugandan civil society and the private sector. Likewise, Norway announced it intended to hold back about $8.2 million in aid to Uganda, while increasing its support for "human rights and democracy defenders." Sweden has threatened similar cutbacks. Denmark, Norway and Sweden additionally joined the United States, UK and other Western nations in condemning an anti-gay law signed by President Yoweri Museveni. The value of the Ugandan shilling fell by more than two percent Wednesday and has dropped each day since the law came into effect.
U.S. eyes $1 billion in Ukraine loan guarantees
26 February 2014 – AFP
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said today that the U.S. is prepared to provide Ukraine with $1 billion in loan guarantees and will consider other forms of assistance. He stipulated, however, that Ukraine’s interim authorities need to enact reforms, tackle corruption, and prepare free and fair elections. Contributions from European states and global financial institutions are also expected.
Putin puts troops in western Russia on alert amid Ukraine tension
26 February 2014 – France24
Russian President Vladmir Putin ordered a military drill in Western Russia today – a step widely perceived as a response to developments in Ukraine. While Russian officials have stated that Moscow will not intervene in Ukraine, Prime Minister Medvedev said on Monday that Russian interests and citizens are under threat. Meanwhile, pro and anti-Russian protestors clashed in the Crimea region within Ukraine.
NATO warns Afghanistan over security agreement
26 February 2014 – Wall Street Journal
NATO defense ministers issued a warning to Afghanistan that the Alliance would withdraw all its forces by the end of the year if no security agreement is signed. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a bilateral security agreement with the U.S., which is a prerequisite for a status-of-forces agreement with NATO that would legally protect international troops in Afghanistan. The defense ministers are also set to discuss developments in Ukraine, although NATO Secretary General Rasmussen signaled that Ukrainian membership in NATO is not an urgent priority.
Hollande Steps in to Calm Row with Morocco
25 February 2014 – Voice of America
President Francois Hollande stepped in personally and called King Mohammed VI of Morocco to try to calm a diplomatic row triggered by allegations of human rights abuses. In one of two incidents that upset Morocco, French police went to the Moroccan embassy in Paris seeking to question the head of domestic intelligence over torture allegations, following lawsuits filed against him in France by Moroccan activists. The French ambassador to Morocco was summoned by the king on Saturday in protest. Many Moroccans are also by comments from Spanish actor Javier Bardem, who quoted a French ambassador as saying Paris chose to ignore human rights abuses in Western Sahara. Diplomatic spats have been uncommon between France and Morocco, a strong ally which has faced criticism from rights groups over police abuses, press freedom and judicial independence.
Mass arrest of protesters at rallies in Russia
25 February 2014 – BBC
Russian police have arrested nearly 500 people at opposition rallies held in Moscow and St. Petersburg, including popular opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The rallies were called to protest the Bolotnaya sentences, where seven protestors received prison terms of up to four years for rioting and attacking police at a demonstration against Vladimir Putin's inauguration for a third presidential term in May 2012, in Bolotnaya Square, Moscow. Amnesty International condemned the sentences as a "hideous injustice" at the end of a "show trial.” Some demonstrators also made shows of solidarity with the protesters in Ukraine.
Syria aid still stalled after UN resolution
25 February 2014 – Reuters
After having passed an initially contentious resolution “demanding an end to restrictions on humanitarian operations in Syria,” early assessments of the UN Security Council resolution reveal it to be largely ineffectual. Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said that, since the resolution was passed, “there [has been] no movement on the ground” to send in UN aid convoys. Moreover, many aid workers feel that the resolution, which promises “further steps” if humanitarian assistance is blocked, lacks the force to compel the Assad government to comply because it is believed that Russia and China are likely to veto any additional resolution aimed at using force against Damascus.
Ukraine Calls for Urgent Western Aid After Yanukovich Ousted
24 February 2014 – Voice of America
Ukraine appealed for urgent international aid on Monday after the fall of Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovich, saying it will need $35 billion over the next two years. Ukraine’s chances of receiving the remaining $12 billion of a $15-billion bailout package from Moscow following the spurning of an EU trade deal are slim to none. Acting President Oleksander Turchinov warned that Ukraine was close to default and “heading into the abyss.” The United States and European Union said they were looking at how to help Kyiv, yet indicated that any comprehensive package was likely to take shape only after elections in May and in coordination with the International Monetary Fund, which is likely to demand “painful” economic reforms. EU officials said it was highly unlikely Europe or the United States would put the kind of sums mentioned by Kyiv on the table right away, but smaller bilateral loans, possibly coordinated by the EU, could be considered for short term aid.
24 February 2014 – Multiple sources
Just days after Ukrainian MPs removed Viktor Yanukovich from his office as President, The BBC reports that the state has issued an arrest warrant for his involvement in "the mass murder of peaceful citizens." Mr. Yanukovich, who still maintains that he is Ukraine's "legitimate leader," has fled to an unknown destination. His ouster, coupled with the warrant, has provoked counter-protests in the pro-Russian Crimea and The BBC also reports that Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev is calling this weekend's transition "an armed mutiny." Questioning the legitimacy of the interim government, Medvedev has stated that "there is no-one for us to communicate with there today." Russia has recalled its ambassador to Ukraine for "consultation."
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Ukraine’s Leader Flees the Capital; Elections Are Called
22 February 2014 –New York Times
Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych has fled the capital city of Kiev amid violent protests and civil unrest. The news came as protesters took control of the entrance of the presidential palace. A local TV news segment, recorded in an area near the Russian border, featured Yunukovych - where he explained that he fled the capital because of a “coup” and that his car was “fired upon” as he drove away. Despite his departure, Yanukovych stated that he does not plan to leave the country or resign.
Ukraine leader agrees to deal amid move to free archrival
21 February 2014 – New York Times
After a failed truce and “the most lethal day of violence since Soviet times,” a tentative agreement to end the politically-fueled bloodshed in Ukraine has been announced. This agreement, which included foreign ministers from the EU as well as Russia, emerged from the intense pressure the Opposition has placed on President Yanukovich over the three months since spurning an EU association agreement. EU mediators, however, warn that Yanukovich’s assertion that an agreement—which would “call early presidential elections, form a coalition and reduce presidential powers through constitutional reforms”—has been reached is “premature,” and that there are many issues left to resolve. According to Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, all that has “been settled is the agreement’s draft.”
Russia to Strengthen Mediterranean Force With “Stealth” Subs
20 February 2014 - RIANovosti
The combat capability of Russia’s naval task force in the Mediterranean will increase significantly following the first deliveries of Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarines in 2015. Russia formed a permanent naval task force in the Mediterranean last year to defend its interests in the region, however this move was perceived as a response to calls for international intervention in the worsening civil war in Syria, Russia’s longtime ally. The task force currently consists of 12 warships and auxiliary vessels, including the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky and aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. The Russian Defense Ministry has ordered a total of six Varshavyanka-class subs, dubbed “black holes in the ocean” by the U.S. Navy because they are nearly undetectable when submerged. The Black Sea Fleet has not received new submarines for decades and currently operates only one boat: the Kilo-class Alrosa, which joined the navy in 1990.
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