World News Brief, Tuesday February 24

Violence in Eastern Ukraine stalls troop withdrawal; Tony Abbott to toughen Australian citizenship law; Japanese agriculture minister resigns; Greece plans economic reforms to dodge bankruptcy; ISIS claims responsibility for Libyan bombings; and more 

Top of the Agenda

Fresh Violence Stalls Ukraine Withdrawal

Ukraine said on Monday that government forces could not proceed with plans to withdraw (BBC) heavy artillery from front lines of battle in eastern Ukraine, citing attacks on their positions by pro-Russia separatists. The government-rebel truce seemed to be strengthened by a prisoner exchange (FT) on Saturday: Kiev exchanged fifty-two rebels for one hundred and forty government military personnel. However, a  blast (Deutsche Welle) that killed two people at a Sunday rally marking the one-year anniversary of the Maidan uprising raised doubts about the renegotiated peace plan. Foreign ministers from France, Germany, and Ukraine will meet (Reuters) in Paris on Tuesday to try to get the cease-fire on track.


"Many Ukrainians are still expecting a victory from Poroshenko and his government. But the sad truth is that Russia is a superior opponent, one which Ukraine's military cannot hope to defeat. Ukraine's strength, displayed on the Maidan, is that its people can organize and stand up against political lies. Russia should fear this courage of the people. Civil society is a powerful force, one that will one day succeed not only in Ukraine but also in Russia," writes Bernd Johann for Deutsche Welle.

"Ukraine might not get the luxury of peace to make its reforms succeed. Disillusionment among civil society is mounting and disappointment with governance has deepened. For Ukraine to recover its financial stability and demonstrate the impact of reforms to its citizens, it will need more than just the minimum to survive," argues Iskra Kirova in Al Jazeera.

"What happens in Ukraine—not the financial standoff with Greece—will be the ultimate test of whether European and transatlantic unity endure. The fault lines extending from Ukraine are undermining the fundamental values that have underpinned Europe's postwar peace and prosperity. Failure to defend those values in Ukraine will cause them to unravel far beyond our borders. A West that is divided in this crisis cannot stand," cautions former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko at Project Syndicate. 



Australian PM to Toughen Citizenship Law

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced (BBC) a new anti-extremism strategy on Monday that seeks to impose stricter measures on citizenship and immigration. The new measures, part of a bid to combat homegrown terrorism, were announced following the release of a government report on the siege of a Sydney café in December.

JAPAN: Agriculture minister Koya Nishikawa resigned (Kyodo) on Monday amid allegations of his involvement in a political fundraising scandal. Nishikawa's resignation comes as the ruling party prepares to submit new agricultural reform legislation to parliament next month. 

This CFR Backgrounder looks at Prime Minster Shinzo Abe's macroeconomic plans.


Greece plans economic reforms to dodge bankruptcy

ISIS claims responsibility for Libyan bombings

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