World News Brief, Friday February 21

Shaky Ukraine truce collapses; growing chill between Japan and US; South and North Korean families reunited after 60 years; Facebook to buy WhatsApp; first round of Iran nuclear talks ends with timetable; and more

Top of the Agenda

Ukraine Truce Collapses With More Deaths

More than twenty civilians were killed in fighting between police and antigovernment protestors in Kiev on Thursday, ending an overnight truce declared by Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich. The government said dozens of police were also dead or wounded (Reuters). Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said U.S. and European threats of sanctions against Ukrainian officials would "encourage extremists," and reiterated Moscow's view of the crisis as a coup attempt by armed rioters (RT). The Obama administration imposed visa restrictions on twenty Ukrainian officials allegedly behind the bloody crackdown, a move seen as the least harsh sanction possible (McClatchy).


"Ukraine, this fragile and vital bridge, is in danger of collapsing. To threaten sanctions, to condone violent extremists in the streets and to ignore Ukraine's financial troubles—as some European leaders seem to be doing—would be to hasten the destruction of the bridge. Instead, we should be supporting and repairing it," writes Romano Prodi in the New York Times.

"Russian officials frequently complain that Ukraine is an unpredictable and unreliable partner. This may be a Russian attempt to show to western capitals that it is no puppet-master. Equally, it may be true that there is little Moscow can do. Very few people know what Mr. Putin has been telling Mr. Yanukovich in recent days. But ordering a bloodbath in the middle of the Sochi Olympics—which Mr, Putin had intended as a celebration of modern Russia—cannot possibly have been in his own interest," writes Kathrin Hille in the Financial Times.

"Do you not see the absurdity—not to say the obscenity—of pretending to believe, up to the last minute of the last day of this ruined Olympiad, that there might be two Putins: Putin the Terrible, who earlier this week issued $2 billion to prop up the regime of his valet Viktor Yanukovich, the Ukrainian president who then unleashed his forces on the Maidan protesters; and the other Putin, strutting across the stage and through the stands, greeting you with the munificence due those who used to be called the gods of the stadium?" writes Bernard-Henri Lévy in the Wall Street Journal.


Pacific Rim

Nationalistic Rhetoric in Japan Chills U.S. Relations

A series of nationalistic comments by close political associates of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, including revisionist views of Japan's World War II history and direct criticisms of the United States, have raised concerns of a growing chill between Abe's government and the Obama administration (NYT).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the U.S.-Japan security alliance.

NORTH KOREA: Hundreds of South and North Korean families separated by the 1950–53 Korean War were reunited on Thursday at a North Korean resort (Yonhap).


Facebook to buy WhatsApp

First round of Iran nuclear talks ends with timetable

 This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on