A summit between leaders of the European Union and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko yesterday did little to convince onlookers that Ukraine would be joining the EU anytime soon. The EU has downplayed a prior claim that they would consider a peacekeeping mission to eastern Ukraine, while Poroshenko loudly defended the debt restricting deal/economic reforms and his commitment to combat government corruption. European Council President Donald Tusk said that a team would be sent to assess Ukraine for their entrance, and agreed in principle to a border advisory mission to eastern Ukraine. Russian politicians made announcements about the results of the summit with glee, noting the widening differences between the two blocs, and noting the fulfillment of the original Russian objective of allowing no association between the EU and Ukraine. Other Ukrainian proposals were similarly rebuffed, including a proposal to for visa-free travel, which EU leaders were afraid would produce a huge wave of migration into their member territories. The EU has given Poroshenko’s administration a one-page summary of tasks for Kiev to implement in order for any agreement to be reached. Follow us on Twitter: @SteppeDispatch News Briefs:
- Mongolia’s justice ministry said it would invalidate a claim for a $100 million arbitration by Khan Resources, after Mongolia in 2010 nationalized a uranium mining play the company was developing. However, the chairman of the company, Jim Doak, was found dead in his hotel room last Thursday and the company has now announced that it would seek the services of a debt collector. The news will likely come as a blow to Mongolia’s government, who are currently navigating one of four arbitration disputes based on nationalization that occurred in the past years.
- Heavy fighting has been reported around the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, where a major militant offensive is taking place. Reports indicate that militants control up to 40% of the province. The battle has caused President Ashraf Ghani to delay his departure on a state visit to India in order to meet with the top NATO commander in Afghanistan. 11 soldiers and 41 militants were killed in Afghanistan within a day.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quoted during the EU summit in Kiev as saying that increased sanctions against Russia would all be a result of the commitments of the ceasefire as outlined by the Minsk II Accords of February. Merkel made an announcement at a press conference that this has been the unambiguous policy of the EU leaders to increase or decrease sanctions on the basis of that metric alone.
- Unsurprisingly, it seems that Kazakh incumbent Nursultan Nazarbayev won the presidential election on Sunday. Claims about its fairness have been flooding Western airwaves ever since, with the OSCE saying that Kazakh voters had very limited choice in the election and the voter turnout rate of 95.22% is so enormously high as to be egregiously fabricated. The Central Election Commission released the figure and voter support for opposition candidates roughly numbered a combined 2.3%. “I apologize if these numbers are unacceptable for the superdemocratic countries, but there was nothing I could do,” Nazarbayev said during his victory acceptance speech.