Night Watch

North Korea: Update: North Korea fired two SCUD short range ballistic missiles from an east coast launch site into the Sea of Japan. The four missiles fired last week also were SCUDs.

Comment: These launches look like crew training.

The purge continues. Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae, the chief commissar of the army, is reported to have been arrested and incarcerated for not fulfilling his duties and for disloyalty.

Comment: Choe had been thought to be close to Kim, but one of his duties was to watch Chang Sung-taek. There is no way of knowing why he is incarcerated because North Korea is a surveillance state.

Pakistan: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban -TTP) on Saturday announced a one-month ceasefire to allow the resumption of peace talks that had collapsed following last month's slaying of 23 paramilitary soldiers by the group's Mohmand chapter.

"After taking into consideration appeals of religious scholars, the TTP announces a month-long ceasefire in the best interests of Islam and the country," the group's spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement.

"The TTP senior leadership advises all subgroups to respect the call for a ceasefire and abide by it and completely refrain from all jihadi activities in this time period," he added. The Mohmand tribe announced it will keep the ceasefire.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday directed Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif to "hold the guns" and stop the airstrikes, an official source claimed.

Comment: The threat of a large, visible punitive operation achieved a short term ceasefire. A month is about as long as either side can maintain a ceasefire. It provides an opportunity to exchange and discuss demands and not much more because the TTP seeks ultimately to replace the government in Islamabad. Nevertheless, it is a positive development, though the TTP will use it to rest and replenish stocks.

Russia: Russian Federal Border Guard Service reported that 675,000 Ukrainian refugees have entered Russia in the past two months, creating a potential humanitarian crisis. The Federal Migration Service reported 143,000 people applied for entry in Russia in the past two weeks.

Comment: There is no way to verify the figures, but just their announcement tends to reinforce President Putin's assertion that Russia has a responsibility to protect Russians. That is the justification he is reported to have given to the US president on Saturday.

Night Watch

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