Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko praised the first night of successful cease fire between the Ukrainian military and separatist forces operating out of eastern Ukraine. The statements made by Ukrainian president and former chocolate mogul are significant mainly due to the timing of the cease fire. Circumstances would suggest that the timing of the cease fire is directly related to a significantly weakened Russian economy and a potential currency crisis in Moscow. The Russian Central Bank has intervened twice to raise the country’s interest rates by more than 10%, though the state of the currency is dire, reaching equal value with the Kyrgyz som just a few days ago.
The cease fire, thus, has been interpreted as a potential minor capitulation on part of the Kremlin. Pundits have been slow in predicting some kind of compromise agreement between the two sides primarily due to the erratic and wholly unpredictable behavior of Vladimir Putin, though it’s been suggested that the Russian president may have little choice. Sanctions regimes already leveled against Moscow are expected to be tightened later this week following the US senate’s approval of new legislation. Putin is expected to elaborate on his intentions this Thursday during an annual news conference.
- Violence again broke out in Afghanistan yesterday, as Taliban suicide bombers stormed a bank in the southern province of Helmand. The joint blasts had the effect of killing “at least 10 people.” The attack is reported to have been made possible by one suicide bomber blowing himself up at the entrance of the bank. Once the entrance was cleared, an additional four stormed the bank and opened fire on civilians security forces located inside. An additional 20 civilians are being treated for gunshot wounds.
- Xinjiang province’s new high-speed train has already transported more than 167,000 passengers in little over a month. The train, which links Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, with Lanzhou, is expected to bring nearly 6,000 passengers per day to and from the two cities.
- Turkmenistan is undertaking feasibility studies commissioned to find out how officials in Ashgabat can best invest in solar power. Researchers at the Turkmen Academy of Sciences have been working at the behest of the national government to develop technical silicon from quartz sand located throughout Turkmenistan. Government officials are mulling the creation of monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon for usage in capturing solar energy. Turkmenistan is uniquely positioned due to its geography and natural resources to become a major solar energy producer, as the energy required to produce large amounts of silicon is cheap and easy to come by, and Turkmenistan currently experiences more than 300 days of sun every year.
- Current Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov recently published on The Diplomat urging that a Central Asian nation be awarded a seat on the United Nations Security Council. In making his argument, Idrissov cited growing globalization, anti-terror concerns and significant numbers of regional linkage as all reasons why Central Asia should, for the first time, claim a seat. The region’s role as a transit point for major powers’ energy exports and imports, as well as the region’s own vast reserves of gas and oil also featured prominently in the speech.