World News Brief, Thursday February 12

EU and Russian leaders meet to negotiate peace in Ukraine; Chinese president Xi Jinping to make first state visit to US; Australian police thwart alleged ISIS attack; Western embassies pull out of Yemen; Greek Pm wins vote of confidence; and more 

Top of the Agenda

EU, Russian Leaders in High-Stakes Ukraine Summit

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are in Minsk on Wednesday to meet with their Ukrainian and Russian counterparts in an attempt to negotiate a peace agreement (EU Observer) in Ukraine. Both sides claimed new casualties (BBC) and intensified fighting ahead of talks. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he would consider introducing martial law throughout the country (Deutsche Welle) if the conflict escalates further. U.S. President Barack Obama warned (FT) Russia's Vladimir Putin of rising costs if Russia continues its "aggressive actions" in Ukraine. Obama is facing mounting pressure from lawmakers to decide whether to provide Ukraine with lethal aid.


"We don’t want a new Cold War—but even that would be preferable to a new World War. And if we don’t come up with a serious strategy to prevent one, that’s what we’ll get," writes Anne Applebaum for Slate.

"Providing arms would end Washington's 'not providing arms' policy, thereby establishing moral clarity as a first step in a long duel with Moscow. It is the established position of NATO, the European Union, and the United States that Ukraine is facing external aggression from Russia. Under those circumstances, to not provide arms is to undercut that position—to intimate that somehow the democratically elected government in Kiev is not fully legitimate, and is to blame for the conflict," writes James Jeffrey in Foreign Policy.

"The case for helping Ukraine economically is morally and politically overwhelming. The west has the resources to stabilise the economy against all but a massive Russian invasion. Even $27bn would be far less than 0.1 per cent of the combined economic output of the US and the EU—a small price to pay for the chance of securing a stable large democracy on Europe’s eastern flank," argues Martin Wolf in the Financial Times.



Xi to Make U.S. State Visit in September

Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to make his first state visit (Xinhua) to the United States in September, according to state-run media. Separately, a U.S. State Department official said that U.S. and Chinese officials will meet in August to discuss the possibility of repatriating (Reuters) Chinese officials who have fled to the United States with allegedly stolen government assets.

AUSTRALIA: Police arrested (Australian) two men in Sydney hours before they planned to launch an attack. Authorities seized knives, a homemade ISIS flag, and a video of one of the men reportedly pledging to carry out an attack in the name of ISIS.


Western embassies in Yemen closed 

Greek PM wins vote of confidence

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