Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Russia Begins Annexing Crimea as U.S. and EU Impose Sanctions

Top News: On Monday, a day after 97 percent of Russian-occupied Crimea reportedly voted to secede from Ukraine, Vladimir Putin signed an order "to approve the draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on adopting the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation." The referendum and Russia's push for annexation has drawn international condemnation, particularly from the United States and European Union.
The United States responded to Russia's actions in Ukraine by imposing sanctions on some of Putin's closest aides and the leaders of Crimea's breakaway government. The European Union announced a separate list of sanctions, which included some military officials.
Russia recognizes Crimea, US announces sanctions, Russia promises to reciprocate. At least one of the sanctioned officials, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, laughed off the measures, saying that it would not affect Russian politicians do not have financial assets abroad.
Malaysia: The investigation into what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 continues to stagnate today. Malaysian authorities confessed they were less certain than they previously stated about when the plane's transponders were turned off, but investigators remain confident that the plane's disappearance was a deliberate act. Australia has committed additional planes to the search off the country's western shore, while the United States has withdrawn its destroyer, USS Kidd, from the search in the Strait of Malacca; U.S. planes will continue to help in the effort. After reports that the plane's pilot was an anti-government activist, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the claims were an attempt by the government to distract from their own incompetence.

  • A 4.4-magnitude earthquake struck the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles, the largest in the area since 2009.
  • Protests in Venezuela, now in their sixth week, resulted in their 29th casualty when an officer in the Venezuela National Guard was shot in the head.
  • El Salvador's electoral court has confirmed Sanchez Ceren as the country's next president a week after an extremely close run-off election.
  • Sri Lanka arrested two activists "for trying to cause communal disharmony and disturbance" in advance of a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council at the end of the month.
  • China dismissed a U.N. report on North Korean human rights abuses, saying that the report's reliance on refugees and asylum seekers' accounts called its credibility into question.
  • The government of Thailand will allow a 60-day state of emergency, declared amid widespread anti-government protests, to expire today; the state of emergency will be replaced by new legislation, the Internal Security Act.
Middle East
  • President Obama met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
  • A coordinated car bomb attack on a Libyan army training facility killed eight people and wounded 13 in Benghazi.
  • Nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 resume today in Vienna.
  • Kenyan police in Mombasa arrested two men driving a car loaded with two homemade bombs.
  • Al-Shabab staged two attacks against U.N. and AMISOM forces in Somalia, targeting a convoy in Mogadishu and bombing a hotel in Bulobarde.
  • Lapiro de Mbanga, a Cameroonian protest singer who was imprisoned for three years for anti-government activism before seeking asylum in the United States, has died of cancer at age 56.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced her support for the economic reform policies of the new Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, in a meeting in Berlin.
  • Serbia's governing Serbian Progressive Party gained seats in the country's parliamentary election, marking the first time in the country's history that parliament will be controlled by a majority party.
  • Venetians took to the polls to vote on a non-binding resolution to secede from Italy.

-By J. Dana Stuster


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