Russia Watches as Ukraine Falls Apart

Posted: May 08, 2014 12:01 AM
Russia Watches as Ukraine Falls Apart

China: A man wielding a knife attacked and injured at least six persons at the Guangzhou railway station in south China on Tuesday morning, state media reported. The injuries were said not to be life-threatening. One suspect was shot by the police and detained.

Comment: This is the second knife slashing at a railroad station in southern China and the third terrorist incident in two months. The last knife attack was on 1 March in Kunming and resulted in 33 dead and 143 injured. On 2 May, two terrorists made a suicide attack at a train station in Urumqi in western China, killing themselves and one other person and injuring 79.

The perpetrators in the prior attacks were connected to the Uighur separatists in Xinjiang. The use of a long knife in today's attack suggests the attacker was from the same knife wielding terrorist cell in southern China that attacked in March. .

For the record: China denied that it engaged in contingency planning for a North Korean internal collapse. China's denial is de rigueur, but in this instance it might be partly true.

The so-called contingency plans that were published in the Japanese press are probably not accurate because they purport to describe plans for coping with refugees on the Chinese side of the border. Since before the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994, China has followed a consistent policy of never creating or allowing South Korea to create any sort of program that would attract North Koreans, such as building refugee camps in China.

Chinese policy is to prevent instability on the Korean peninsula. Should it occur, however, the policy is to keep North Koreans and their problems in North Korea or South Korea.

Thailand: Thailand's Constitutional Court is set Wednesday to decide whether to remove Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office on abuse of power charges.

The premier appeared before the court on Tuesday to deny charges that she replaced the national security chief in 2011 for the benefit of her party - an offense for which she can be dismissed.

The court, which has played a key role in recent turbulent chapters of Thai politics, said it was ready to rule at noon on Wednesday.

Comment: Whether Yingluck stays or goes, another round of protests and turbulence appears likely in Bangkok.

Pakistan: Update. In response to the World Health Organization's recommendations, Pakistan's Minister for Health Services said today, "Special measures will include establishing mandatory immunization counters in all airports, border crossings and seaports for all travelers."

Minister for Health Services, Regulation and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar told the National Assembly on Tuesday that the World Health Organization (WHO) travel restrictions are not Pakistan-specific, as two other countries, Cameron and Syria, have also given the same treatment. "The government has called a meeting of all the provincial health ministers and representatives of health departments tomorrow (Wednesday) to devise a strategy to address the issue," she told the House.

Comment: Tarar tried to put the best face on a global emergency. Failure to comply with the WHO recommendations would risk economic disaster.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabian security forces broke up a cell of al-Qaida-linked militants who were planning to carry out attacks on government and foreign targets in the country, an Interior Ministry spokesman said. More than 60 people, almost all Saudi Arabian nationals, were arrested, Major General Mansour Al Turki told reporters in Riyadh.

Comment: The government provided few details about the group. The public description of the group's activities suggests the group had not progressed beyond planning and target identification. Saudi internal security remains vigilant, but the Kingdom remains a target for some Islamic fundamentalists.

Ukraine: Security. Near Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, Pro-Russia militants took over a military radar station without resistance early on Tuesday. Kyiv regime authorities announced an investigation of the soldiers at the site.

Skirmishing also occurred again at Mariupol on the southeastern coast. Ukrainian regime forces have lost four helicopters thus far. West of Ukraine, Moldovan border guards are on high alert because of the fighting last week in Odessa.

The big news was the appointment of a new army commander for regime forces. In a brief statement posted to his official Web site, acting president, Turchynov, said Lieutenant General Anatoly Pushnyakov has been appointed to take command of the army. The statement offered no further details. Turchynov also published a decree sacking the top regional administrator in Odessa.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and other politicians called on the government to form a new volunteer army because the army and security services have been so ineffective.

Comment: Tymoshenko is grandstanding again. She has as many business and social ties to Moscow as does ousted president Yanukovych. The statements from Kyiv continue to display confusion, the lack of a strategy and no leadership.

Talks. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday called for a second round of talks in Geneva. Steinmeier says Ukraine is on the brink of civil war. Russian officials also called for further talks but said pro-Russia activists should be at the table.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said, "Getting together again in the same format, with the opposition to the current Ukrainian regime being absent at the table of negotiations, is unlikely to add anything….It is possible, of course, but we shall be going in circles," he told reporters at the Council of Europe in Vienna,Interfaxreported.

Lavrov said Ukraine's plan to hold elections on 25 May was "highly unusual" amid a military operation aimed at regaining control over the east.

Comment: Russia has had ample provocation for intervening, but thus far appears to judge that the pro-Russia activists are giving as good as they get, i.e., they are holding their own for now. The German leaders seem more panicky than the eastern Ukrainians. Lavrov recognizes the weakness in the Western position and will use it as leverage in inducing the Kyiv regime to recognize the eastern Ukrainian opposition.

Central African Republic: French forces fought an armed group in northern Central African Republic that is blamed for killing three health workers from Doctors Without Borders on 28 April, according to an official statement. The French military announced Tuesday that its forces had battled rebels in the region of Boguila-Kota and that 'numerous losses' had been inflicted Monday.

Comment: The group that killed the three health workers plus 22 others was from the Islamist militia faction that overthrew the government last year and has since been overthrown. This is one of the few combat engagements in Central African Republic that the French have announced.

Nigeria: Update. Suspected Boko Haram Islamic militants kidnapped eight more girls in northeastern Nigeria. The latest kidnapping happened on Sunday night in the village of Warabe, in Borno state."

Comment: A world movement is emerging to recover the 284 girls in captivity. Boko Haram might yet be destroyed, not by Nigerian forces, but by mercenaries and Western special forces.

Assistance from Chad and Cameroon is probably desirable, but not necessary. Their apparent lack of border controls and effort in hunting Boko Haram have enabled the group to use those countries for refuge.

End of NightWatch


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