World News Brief, Wednesday May 13

John Kerry to meet with Putin in Sochi -- first talks since Ukraine conflict began; six thousand refugees stranded in Malacca Strait; third Bangladeshi blogger murdered; Arctic oil drilling approved; and more


Kerry to Meet With Putin in Sochi

U.S. Secretary of John Kerry is in the Russian port city of Sochi on Tuesday to meet with (Guardian) Russian President Vladimir Putin. These are Kerry’s first talks with Putin since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine in 2014; Kerry will also meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. The Ukraine cease-fire, the civil war in Syria, the conflicts in Libya and Yemen, and the Iran nuclear deal are expected to top (FT) the agenda. Meanwhile, allies of Boris Nemtsov, the government critic who was slain in February, released a report (RFE/RL) on Moscow's involvement in the crisis in Ukraine. The report said that 220 Russian soldiers have died fighting in eastern Ukraine and that Moscow has spent (BBC) $1 billion supporting pro-Russia separatists. Russia denies direct involvement in the conflict.


"It may be going too far to call the brief meeting a re-reset. But sending Mr. Kerry to Sochi (he will subsequently attend a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Turkey) suggests the Obama administration—despite its harsh words in the past for Putin—also sees some hope for re-engaging with Russia and working on issues ranging from Syria to North Korea and the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State (IS)," writes Howard LaFranchi in Christian Science Monitor.

"Thanks both to Mr. Putin’s year of hubris and aggression, and to the long post-Soviet years of indecision, Russia’s future has transitioned from the best of possibilities to the worst. With its economy slumping, its elites trapped by Western sanctions, and its opportunities for foreign loans and access to new technology severely restricted, Mr. Putin has to struggle to implement his own brand of perestroika," writes Maxim Trudolyubov in the New York Times.

"Russia’s incursions into Ukraine and its seizure of Crimea violate two of China’s most consistently held foreign-policy tenets: non-interference in other states and separatism of any kind. But China abstained from voting on the UN Security Council resolutions condemning Russia, while Chinese media have given Russia strong support. China has quietly welcomed a new cold war in Europe that might distract America from its declared “rebalancing” towards Asia," writes the Economist

Grading International Cooperation

As countries around the world struggle to combat global challenges from terrorism to climate change, a Council of Councils Report Card on International Cooperation finds that multilateral action is sorely lacking. Explore the Report Card.


Thousands Stranded at Sea in Southeast Asian Waters

At least six thousand Muslim Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees are feared stranded (AP) on boats in the Malacca Strait, according to migrant officials and activists. In the past two days, 1,600 refugees have arrived on the shores of Southeast Asian countries.

CHINA: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel (Reuters) to Beijing this weekend to meet with senior Chinese leaders ahead of this summer's Strategic and Economic Dialogue and Chinese President Xi Jinping's expected U.S. visit in September. Kerry will then visit Seoul amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula and ahead of President Park Geun-hye’s June trip to the United States.


Third Bangladeshi blogger murdered

Arctic oil drilling approved

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