"COUNTERTERRORISM" UNDERWAY IN EAST UKRAINE
The Ukrainian police arrested 70 pro-Russian protesters who were occupying government buildings in the eastern city of Kharkiv as part of what acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov described as “a counterterrorism operation,” Ria Novosti reports. According to Reuters, the standoff continues in Luhansk and Donetsk.
The recent events have reignited the blame game between the West and Russia, with Kiev accusing Moscow of being behind the separatist movements. In a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, John Kerry warned Russia that any move to destabilize Ukraine “would incur costs.” Meanwhile, NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Russia “to step back” and to pull back the “tens of thousands of troops” stationed on the border with Ukraine.
Lavrov dismissed accusations that Russia was destabilizing Ukraine and said Moscow was ready for negotiations with the U.S., the EU and Ukraine, including representatives of the eastern regions of Ukraine, which “believe that their interests are being ignored by Kiev.” RT reports. In a statement released last night, Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged Kiev “to immediately stop all military preparations which could lead to a civil war,” and claimed that “150 American mercenaries from a private company Greystone Ltd.” were among the operation sent by Kiev to Eastern Ukraine.
In today’s editorial,The New York Times draws the parallel between the events in Crimea last month and now in Ukraine’s industrial heartland. “The United States and Europe have said time and again that further Russian aggression would prompt a stern and painful response. Now is the time to prepare it.” Meanwhile, The Washington Postreports that Europe’s dependency on Russian gas is fueling the cause of shale gas, particularly in Britain.
“I was besotted,” Oscar Pistorius testified this morning in his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, saying he was taken with her than she was with him. Read more from NBC News.
IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS RESUME
Negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program resumed today in the Austrian capital of Vienna. According to PressTV, both sides are expected to discuss a further reduction of the country’s nuclear capabilities as well as mechanisms for inspections, the ultimate goal being to turn the interim deal reached in November into a permanent agreement, AFP reports.
OBAMA AND KERRY TO MEET ABOUT MIDEAST TALKS
Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry will meet today to discuss the future of the U.S.-backed peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, which are on the verge of collapse, Al Arabiya reports. This comes as negotiators from both sides failed to reach a breakthrough earlier today, although an Israeli official said they would meet again. Read more from Reuters.
As Radikal’s Ayse Adanali reports, forced marriage of children is still alive and well in Turkey despite laws against it. “I came back home from work,” one woman told the journalist about her own tragic fate. “The man my sister had married one night before brought her back home saying she was not a virgin. He was furious. My father, who was scared to death that his honor would be harmed, offered him my youngest sister. I intervened, saying that I would marry him. What was I going to do? My sister was just a child, 11 years old. I was 14.”
Read the full article: To Shield Their Daughters, Former Child Brides In Turkey Recount The Horror.
MADURO TO MEET WITH OPPOSITION
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has agreed to meet with an opposition delegation, after a top-level reunion with South American Foreign Ministers, newspaperEl Universalreports. Only the moderate party Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) has so far agreed to the meeting, which will take place today. According to AFP, its leaders seek “change without unseating Maduro.” 39 people have died since the beginning of violent protests in Venezuela two months ago.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
INDEPENDENTS LOSE IN QUEBEC
Quebec’s independent party, Parti Québecois, suffered big losses during yesterday’s election, 18 months after forming a minority government. The Liberal Party is believed to have won 70 of Quebec’s 125 electoral seats, The Montreal Gazette reports. The campaign focused essentially on the independents’ bid for the French-speaking region to become autonomous and the party’s controversial “Charter of Values,” which would have banned public employees from wearing “conspicuous religious symbols.” Some feared the proposed legislation would mean they stood to lose their jobs too.
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is projected to be the most expensive in aviation history.
Yes, someone did groom this poor pooch to look like Yoshi, the dinosaur character in Mario video games.