World News Brief, Thursday June 26

Russia votes to stop using force in Ukraine; Chinese envoy visits Taiwan for first time; China plans global financial institution to rival World Bank; UK set to become first Western country to sell Islamic bonds; Libyans cast ballots for new government; and more 

Top of the Agenda

Russia Annuls Authority to Use Force in Ukraine

The Russian parliament's upper chamber voted Wednesday to annul the authority it had granted President Vladimir Putin in March to use military force in Ukraine (Reuters). Putin requested the move, signaling conciliation to Ukraine and the West as Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko lays the groundwork for peace talks with rebels in the country's east. But a temporary cease-fire appeared on the verge of collapse on Tuesday after rebels downed a military helicopter, leaving nine dead, and killed two soldiers in a separate assault (WaPo). Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance saw no sign that Russia was backing down (Reuters). Ukraine is set to sign a sweeping EU economic and trade agreement (AP) on Friday, the deal which set the current crisis in motion after it was rejected by former president Viktor Yanukovich. The agreement will be signed at the EU summit, where European leaders will also consider levying additional sanctions against Russia. The United States too is preparing broader, sectoral sanctions (NYT).


"All this has taken place against a backdrop of Russian troops rotating to and from the border. They are meant to serve as a reminder to Mr Poroshenko that, lest he think otherwise, his forces cannot achieve a decisive victory on the battlefield alone: he will have to deal with Mr Putin if he wants to pacify the east. The demonstrative presence of the Russian army—several brigades have again moved to the border after some weeks back at base—is also meant to curb temptations in Kiev to resort to heavier weapons, including air power," writes the Economist.

"The United States has perceived Russian calls for dialogue as an attempt to dictate unacceptable conditions. In Russia, the continuing strife has fueled the activity of nationalists and authoritarians. The latter group has become especially active of late and is presenting itself as the only force capable of protecting Russia's interests. An uncontrolled escalation of the confrontation could even lead to outright war.….The solution to the current crisis similarly lies in providing international guarantees for both Ukraine's neutral status and the protection of its Russian-speaking population. The alternative would be far, far worse: Ukraine could well break apart, drawing Russia and the West into another prolonged confrontation," writes Alexander Lukin in Foreign Affairs.

"Contrary to press claims that Putin has wound down his direct and indirect interference in east Ukraine —claims which were mostly based on his seeming acceptance of Petro Poroshenko's election as Ukraine's president, and his brief one-on-one conversations with Poroshenko and President Obama during the D-Day anniversary in France last week —the opposite is the case. As the West has been busy rediscovering a country called Iraq, the Kremlin has been not-so-quietly increasing its support for militants seeking to carve out satrapies in Donetsk and Lugansk," writes Michael Weiss for the Daily Beast.



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China’s Taiwan Envoy Visits Island for First Time

Beijing's head of Taiwanese affairs, Zhang Zhijun, arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday for a four-day trip to improve ties between the two former rivals after March protests derailed a trade pact (SCMP). He is the first minister-level official to visit.

CHINA: Beijing is expanding plans to establish a global financial institution that will be a counterweight to the World Bank (FT).


UK set to become first Western country to sell sharia-compliant bonds

Libyans cast ballots for new government

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