Putin Lets Eastern Europe Know He's Serious

Posted: Sep 03, 2014 12:01 AM

North Korea: North Korean fired another short range missile today from western North Korea into the Sea of Japan. A South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman said it was the first time that Pyongyang fired a missile from Chagang province, which borders China. The launch location is 60 kilometers away from the Chinese border.

The spokesman said North Korea has an underground launch facility in the location.

Comment: South Korea press reported that Monday's launch was 18th time that the North has launched missiles or rockets this year. South Korea has counted a total of 108 projectiles fired in the 18 episodes.

North Korea's inventory of missiles and rockets is large, but its firing of 108 missiles in eight months is highly unusual.

India-Japan: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed Monday to elevate bilateral relations to what they call a "Special Strategic and Global Partnership." Japan promised to extend 3.5 trillion yen (over $33.5 billion) in public and private investment and financing to India over five years for development.

"With Prime Minister Modi's visit to Japan, we are determined to cooperate and further strengthen the 'Strategic and Global Partnership' between Japan and India," Abe said at a joint news conference with Modi. Abe and Modi directed their officials to "further accelerate" negotiations for a civil nuclear pact, which would allow Japan to export nuclear-related technology to India, "with a view to concluding the agreement at an early date."

The two leaders decided to "seek ways to intensify" a security consultative framework, currently involving the countries' vice foreign and defense ministers, to a ministerial level, the declaration said.

In economic cooperation, Abe expressed his intention to grow Japanese investment and financing. He promised a 50 billion yen (over $482 million) loan for a public-private partnership infrastructure project and to double Japanese investment in India within five years, according to the joint statement after their summit in Tokyo.

Prime Minister Abe also expressed Japan's readiness to provide financial, technical and operational support to introduce the Shinkansen system to India. (Note: The Modi government plans to build a high-speed rail network between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in western India.)

The two leaders welcomed substantial agreement on a commercial contract for production and supply of Indian rare earths to Japan, a move that would further reduce Japan's reliance on China for the supply of such minerals that are vital to the production of high-tech products such as hybrid cars and mobile phones.

Comment: The trip marks Modi's first outside South Asia solely for a state visit since taking office in May. He has traveled to Bhutan and Nepal for state visits and to Brazil for the BRICS conference.

The selection of Japan is significant in several respects. Prime Minister Modi's development plans are ambitious and require direct foreign investment from outside sources. Economic ties with Japan have lagged, but both Prime Ministers appear determined to correct that.

The security relationship has developed steadily and promises to become even stronger. India shares Japan's strategic interest in containing Chinese expansion, particularly in sea areas. India and Japan possess two of the three most-powerful Asian Navies. The India-Japan strategic partnership bears careful watch, especially as Japan implements a more expansive interpretation of self-defense.

Pakistan: The political crisis in Islamabad deepened this weekend. The Army Corps commanders met under the leadership of Chief of Army Staff General Sharif. They expressed their support for democracy and their serioous concern about the internal political crisis.

The opposition has continued its protests in Islamabad, leading to more clashes on Monday when protestors broke into the state television building and took the channel off the air. Security forces later recovered the building and PTV came back on the air.

The president of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, Javed Hashmi, on Monday accused PTI chairman Imran Khan of acting at on behalf of "others," referring to the Pakistan Army and the Supreme Court, according to Pakistani press. Hashmi said the Pakistan Army is the driving force sustaining the protests and keeping them coordinated.

The military press service categorically rejected the assertions that the Army and the intelligence service were backing the protests in any way. It told the press, "The Army is an apolitical institution and has expressed its unequivocal support for democracy on numerous occasions. It is unfortunate that Army is dragged into such controversies. The integrity and unity of the Army are its strength which it upholds with pride."

Comment: In extended comments, Hashmi laid out the supposed plan for overthrowing the government in which the Army supported the Supreme Court in removing the prime minister and installing a new government, a scenario that was used in 1996. None of Hashmi's remarks have been confirmed. However, the protestors could not maintain their camps in Islamabad without powerful supporters plus the cooperation of the armed and security services.

After today's storming of PTV headquarters, the government is compelled to take measures to restore respect for property as well as law. There will be more clashes which could escalate. The government probably cannot rely on the Army to maintain it in power. Thus, if the police and paramilitary police cannot restore civil order, the prime minister might have to resign.

Ukraine: Situation summary. With the introduction of Russian "volunteer" units in southeast Ukraine, the momentum has switched back to the rebels. Ukrainian forces abandoned Luhansk airport. The rebels claim to have recaptured one or two locations.

Russian President Putin called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. He also upbraided the Kyiv regime for not holding direct talks with the separatists. Putin said the negotiations should aim at creating an autonomous state within the Ukraine.

Meanwhile, almost on cue, the separatists said they abandoned their aspirations to become an independent country. Instead they are now demanding to be a state in a federal Ukraine.

Likewise on cue, President Poroshenko rejected a negotiated settlement.

Comment: Russian treatment of the eastern Ukrainians has differed significantly from its treatment of Crimeans. After the initial surge of enthusiasm, the Russians have never encouraged secession by the leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk in any public statements. Russian help never was sufficient to enable them to secede. However, it was enough to prevent Ukraine from suppressing them.

Putin's statement confirms that Russia does not want Ukraine fragmented and prefers a pro-Russian autonomous region that affords Russia land access to Crimea and to friendly ports along the northern half of the Black Sea coast. The surge in Russian volunteers indicates Putin wants this crisis settled before winter.

End of NightWatch


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