NATO to deploy forces at new bases in Eastern Europe in response to Ukraine crisis; ASEAN nations agree to strengthen cooperation on healthcare and environmental businesses; Gaza ceasefire negotiated; UN helicopter downed in South Sudan; and more
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NATO Plans New Bases as Poroshenko Meets Putin
NATO's secretary general announced that the alliance will deploy forces at new bases (Guardian) in eastern Europe for the first time as it responds to the Ukraine crisis, a move that will likely trigger a strong reaction from Moscow. Meanwhile, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko agreed during talks in Minsk (NYT) on Wednesday with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that he will work on a cease-fire plan (FT) to end the separatist conflict in the east of the country, although he gave no details of what the plan may entail. Separatist rebels shelled a town in southeastern Ukraine on Wednesday (AP), raising fears of a counter-offensive on government-controlled areas of the region.
"In looking to negotiations to end the crisis in Ukraine, the West should first make clear what steps NATO and the EU will undertake to support Ukraine and, if required, how sanctions on Russia will be intensified if it is unwilling to reach a fair settlement. Without this clarity, Putin may be reluctant to accept that the endgame has begun," writes the National Interest.
"Ukraine doesn't belong to NATO, so the alliance is not obligated by treaty to deploy ground troops or air support. NATO could provide weapons, but the fight would be the Ukrainians to win," writes David Francis for Foreign Policy.
"Russia's conflict with the West over Ukraine will grow more dangerous. Tougher US and European sanctions won't change Russia's approach to Ukraine, because President Vladimir Putin is determined that this country will remain in Russia's orbit and eventually become the crucial addition to his "Eurasian Union", an economic alliance that now includes Kazakhstan and Belarus," writes Ian Bremmer for the Straits Times.
Abe Sends Message to Yasukuni Service
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe conveyed a message to a memorial service at the controversial Yasukui Shrine (AFP)—which houses World War II criminals—in a move that could prompt anger from its neighbors. China and South Korea have been angered by Japan's equivocation on its wartime past.
ASEAN: Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed to strengthen cooperation on new industries including healthcare and environmental businesses, paving the way for the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (Japan Times).
Gaza ceasefire negotiated
UN helicopter downed in South Sudan