EU Leaders snubbed the Russian Victory Day parade, which celebrates the ending of World War II (called the Great Patriotic War in Russia) by refusing or otherwise rebuffing offers to attend. Russian media conglomerates blamed pressure from the United States and Russian leaders rebuked the European political elite for “boycotting those who lost hundreds of thousands of people while saving Europe from fascism.” Instead, Putin’s company included Central Asian dictators like Karimov of Uzbekistan and Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan.
In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that while the United States and Russia share many “common agendas” in various areas, he would be most looking forward to working with whoever is elected president in November 2016 over the current administration. During last week’s teleconference, Putin criticized the US for withdrawing unilaterally from the 2002 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
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- President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov had a long, rambling inauguration speech last week, which largely corroborated reports of the aging dictator’s growing senility. The 77-year-old’s speech was set at 1,295 words in length, but the delivered speech ran a bit above 2,000 words, with many ad libbed lines such as this one: “The growth of our GDP is 8%. For that there were preparations, every day preparations since we came independent, we’ve been making plans. Only in our five principles, we never and nowhere, from a small or large tribute, never showed off. If needed, I’ll say it again and again, bragging, whoever is bragging is just about a country which just has its name we don’t go that way.”
- Afghan lawmakers have finally approved a new government of 16 cabinet members, leaving only the defense minister’s post unfilled. The entire set of ministries of Afghanistan number 25, and Western NGO’s and governments breathed a collective sigh of relief over the progress, noting that Ghani’s nascent administration has been hamstrung by its inability to get an effective cabinet running in Kabul.
- Chinese energy conglomerate Shenhua signed a deal with Mongolia to buy some 1.2 million tonnes of coking coal from Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit, for which it won the contract in January. The deposit, close to the Chinese border, will provide an enormous source of coal for the Chinese economy. The Mongolian government has announced it also plans to incorporate US or Russian firms in the building of its railway from the deposit down to Chinese territory.
- Yesterday, Ukrainian officials in Kiev publicly listed Russian military units within Ukrainian borders that are fighting alongside pro-Russian separatists in the eastern regions. Viktor Muzhenko, Ukrainian Chief of Staff for the Army made the list public and named the 15th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, the 8th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, the 331st Airborne Regiment, and the 98th Airborne Division.