EU debates tougher sanctions for Russia

The Foreign Ministers of the European Union, in addition to debating the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran, have been considering taking a stronger stance on the deteriorating diplomatic relations with Russia. The debate has mostly been over imposing punitive measures such as sanctions versus ensuring that an independent search of the crash site is undertaken and determining what Russia’s role was in the missile strike.

Germany is attempting to maintain some level of communication between Russian President Putin and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who are both arguing for harder lines. French plans to sell helicopter gunships to Russia has been highlighted as a deal to be put on hold by the US and Britain. President Francois Hollande brushed aside criticism of the deal, saying that the deal made last year is not covered by current sanctions against Russia, and that the contract should be honored.

Obama and Cameron have been the strongest denouncers of Russia and Ukrainian separatists, advocating harsher sanctions and making strongly worded statements against the incidents. “If Russia continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and back these separatists, then it will only further isolate itself from the international community and the costs for Russia’s behavior will only continue to increase,” Obama said on Monday.

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News Briefs:

  • China’s role in a post-US Afghanistan has been described by China’s special representative to Afghanistan, Sun Yuxi, as substantive, though not designed to supplant American influence in the country. However, with Chinese fears over Islamic extremism rising at home, it is expected to play a stronger role in Afghanistan in order to ensure that the country does not descend into chaos as it did prior to the American invasion.
  • Kazakhstan has proudly proclaimed its intention to remain a world leader in supplying uranium. Kazakhstan currently produces 38% of the world’s uranium, and is finding new clients, such as the Chinese government, which has already announced the planned construction of up to 100 new nuclear plants by 2030.
  • Iran has moved to eliminate highly enriched reserves of uranium gas. The move signals Iran’s compliance with the terms of the original nuclear deal of November of 2013, and has been verified by the IAEA as having complied fully with the terms of the agreement. Tehran is currently seeking to reverse a downward trajectory in nuclear talks with the P5+1, and agreed to terms on a four month extension of the initial six month deadline during the past week.
  • The Chinese government has announced that it plans to create up to one million jobs in its restive province of Xinjiang by investing about 20 billion yuan ($3.2b USD) in the region’s textile and clothing industry. The fund has already been allocated and has been designated in part due to the rise in regional violence. The fund is expected to bolster social stability and create an employment destination for unemployed Chinese. The goal of creating one million jobs is expected to be reached by 2023.
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