Ukraine: Obama Urges NATO Arming of Rebels, France Delays Warship Sale

The souring of US-Russia relations continued yesterday, as U.S. President Obama, speaking at a NATO in Wales, urged NATO to train and arm the Ukrainian military to defend itself from Russia. The American president described Russian activity in Ukraine as a “brazen assault” on Ukraine, and called for members of NATO to consider the accession of regional members, seemingly alluding to a possible move to allow Ukraine to enter the American-led body. The suggestion that NATO could open its doors to Kiev would come as a direct affront to Russia, which has aggressively sought to prevent nations within its sphere of influence from joining forces with NATO.

The move to restrict Russian influence was done seemingly in solidarity with the European Union states, as France announced the postponement of a sale of a sophisticated warship to Moscow. The sale had been widely criticized for its timing and the appearance of “arming the aggressor” that it allegedly gave. French President François Hollande, in a statement alluding to the present circumstances, stated that the “conditions for France to deliver a war ship are not to date in place.” The European Union is expected to levy another set of sanctions later on this week.

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News Briefs:

  • Uzbekistan may be approaching a rapprochement with Tajikistan – as President Islam Karimov is expected to visit Dushanbe next week for his first visit in six years. However, the Institute for War & Peace reporting speculates that Uzbkeistan is trying to keep Russia and China from wielding oversize influence in the region and after the visit of the Tajik President to Beijing last week and the announcement of several new projects, Karimov may be trying to either benefit from cooperation himself or promote some measure of solidarity ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.
  • US President Barack Obama called the conflict in Ukraine a “moment of testing” for the US and EU, citing the Russian invasion as a breach of clear international norms on sovereignty. Obama accused President Putin of violating the post-WWII international order, he said in a speech to students in Wales, during which he was attending the NATO summit. He confirmed the US would be sending weapons to Kiev, and additionally that NATO needs “to make concrete commitments to help Ukraine modernize and strengthen its security forces.”
  • China is currently in negotiations with Pakistan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan to build three new railroad lines as part of Beijing’s “New Silk Road” Strategy,” one of Xi Jinping’s major foreign policy initiatives. Construction will commence on regional freight stations to create more trading platforms, and final plans and objectives for these “silk roads” are planned to be released in the next few months.
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