The fate of Ukraine, one of Eastern Europe's largest countries, hangs in the balance. On the one hand, “spontaneous” political demonstrations and government building seizures by pro-Russian separatists, are bringing an air of deliberately planned disorder to the country's eastern regions bordering Russia.
Syria's harrowing civil war has taken a new turn as the beleaguered Mid East country now faces a widening drought and food crisis in the midst of a widening conflict. U.N. relief agencies warn that the deepening drought may cut food production thus adding to the country's woes.
In a resounding rebuff to Russia, the U.N. General Assembly has reaffirmed Ukraine's territorial integrity and has called the recent referendum which incorporated the Crimean peninsula into Russia as “invalid.” While President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty joining Crimea with Russia, the Kiev government has committed itself never to accept Crimea's independence nor annexation.
The clock is ticking and the calendar counting down for Afghanistan as the embattled South Asian country heads for Presidential elections in April and the pullout of foreign security forces by the end of the year. A credible electoral process would go a long way in paving a peaceful transition for the war-torn country that must soon bear the brunt of its security challenges without the help of American and NATO troops after 2014.
As the Ukraine crisis deepens, and diplomacy falters, Washington's rhetorical volume has been pumped up against Vladimir Putin's power grab in Crimea. The Europeans have equally criticized the Kremlin, but in more polite tones. Ukraine's fledgling government in the meantime, realizes both its vulnerability to neighboring Russia's political policies as well as its energy supply.
Less than a week after the spectacular closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided for an encore and invaded the sovereignty of neighboring Ukraine. The chill winds of the Cold War have returned to Europe and the halls of diplomacy.
Amid the continuing carnage form Syria's civil war, there are small, if hard won, humanitarian victories which bring a tiny glimmer of hope to the battered and bleeding Middle East nation. Surprisingly the U.N. Security Council, unanimously agreed to a resolution which allows “unhindered humanitarian access” to cities, towns and neighborhoods under siege by warring factions.
“How can we claim we didn't know,” governments and media may soon be asking themselves as stunning new evidence of suffering and widespread human rights violations become glaringly obvious in communist North Korea?
Widening attacks on the press, arrests and intimidation of journalists are among the barriers to the free flow of information worldwide. But beyond the usual lists of suspects blocking and censoring news and the internet, there's a definite and deadly spike in violence against reporters, ranging from the Syrian civil war to drug cartel intimidation in Mexico.
If it's Tuesday, this must be Havana. Given U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's peripatetic global travels, the two-day visit to Cuba, especially in the midst of a frigid New York winter, seemingly made sense. After all, the trip was officially to attend the meeting of the