World News Brief, Thursday February 20

Latest Ukraine protests kill dozens; Japanese economy may reverse 15 years of deflation; fatter, taller soldiers in China struggle to fit into tanks; North American leaders meet in Mexico for trade talks; tensions rise in bid to find successor to Robert Mugabe; and more 

Top of the Agenda

Dozens Killed in Ukraine Protests

At least twenty-five people were killed after Ukrainian police officers in riot gear tried to push demonstrators, many armed with fire bombs and rocks, out of Kiev's main square. The violence on Tuesday was the worst in nearly three months of protests and has raised fears of sparking a civil war (AP). President Yanukovich accused pro-European opposition leaders of attempting a violent coup, a view that was echoed by Russian president Vladimir Putin, who spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart after the deadly clashes on Tuesday (Reuters). Western capitals expressed alarm at the bloodshed in Kiev. European officials called for implementing "targeted measures" against those responsible for the violence; Vice President Joe Biden spoke to Yanukovich by phone to urge resraint (BBC).


 "Where is the West in all this? While all this was going on in Kiev, two opposition leaders, Arseny P. Yatsenyuk and Vitali Klitschko, were meeting in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel. The reception they received is nice, but it's no substitute for an economic aid package to convince Ukrainians that they can get a better deal out of the EU than out of Russia. Both the EU and the U.S. are said to have been working on such a package but behind-the scenes negotiations have produced scant results," writes CFR Senior Fellow Max Boot in Commentary.

"Moscow's liberals are watching Kiev with a mix of horror, envy, and admiration: they're just like us, but look at what they've been able to do against a president they didn't like. Which is why Russian state controlled television is also showing a live feed of Kiev burning: you want to overthrow the government, well, watch the tires burn black through the night and the dead bodies stack up. This is what instability looks like, this is what democracy looks like," writes Julia Ioffe in the New Republic.

"Late on Tuesday evening, government police forces and Yanukovich-hired thugs tried to force their way through the barricades around Independence Square. Once again, Mr. Putin's man in Kiev has proved he is willing to turn to violence to save his skin. The U.S. and the EU have vaguely threatened sanctions against President Yanukovich, his inner circle and his supporters among the oligarchs. If not now, when? The longer the U.S. and the EU dither on the sidelines, the uglier Ukraine's crisis will get," the Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial.


Pacific Rim

Prices Rise in Japan for First Time in Five Years

Japan's government said prices are "rising moderately" even though growth has slowed to an annualized 1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. Core consumer prices rose 1.3 percent in December from a year earlier, a sign that the economy may reverse fifteen years of deflation (Reuters).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the economic vision of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

CHINA: Soldiers in China have become fatter and taller in recent years, and are finding themselves cramped in tanks designed decades ago, a development that adds urgency to upgrade military equipment (AFP).


North American leaders meet in Mexico for trade talks 

Tensions rise in bid to find successor for Robert Mugabe

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