Scandal at The Fed?
1. Russian warships sailed toward the Black Sea yesterday, stoking alarm among U.S. and European security officials who warned that the final capabilities for a large-scale assault on Ukraine appeared to be falling into place. On a day of frantic shuttle diplomacy by French President Emmanuel Macron, who hopped among capitals trying to avert a conflict, Russian officials gave little sign that the French leader’s initiatives had changed their calculations. Instead, U.S. and European officials said they were eyeing the next 12 days with increasing concern, fearing that Russian military exercises scheduled to start Thursday could provide cover for a sudden strike against Ukraine and that the Feb. 20 conclusion of the Olympic Games in Beijing clears away a potential diplomatic barrier for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who may fear upstaging Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Source: washingtonpost.com)
2. As those warships sail toward the Black Sea and the Kremlin positions large numbers of troops and weapons for exercises in Moscow-friendly Belarus, Ukrainian troops are preparing for military drills of their own — using unmanned aircraft and antitank missiles supplied by Kyiv’s Western partners. The rival military exercises, starting Thursday, follow diplomatic activity on both sides of the Atlantic that some analysts fear is being used by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a delaying tactic while he gets his forces into position for a renewed invasion of Ukraine. It remains unclear whether the two days of whirlwind diplomacy — involving leaders from France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and the United States — yielded any firm commitment to de-escalation. The Kremlin wants NATO to promise it will never let Ukraine join the military alliance, and has called for the bloc to cease military activity in Eastern Europe. NATO diplomats, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly about internal strategic discussions, said they worried Putin’s demands were so expansive that there was little or no room for a compromise that all sides would find acceptable. (Source: washingtonpost.com)
3. The Ukraine crisis is here to stay. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is increasingly staking his legacy on reversing Ukraine’s pro-Western shift. Even if he does not order an invasion this winter, he is making clear that he will keep the pressure on, backed by the threat of force, for as long as it takes to get his way. But Ukraine’s leaders have so far refused to compromise on Mr. Putin’s terms, and the West sees the Kremlin’s demand for a Russian sphere of influence in Eastern Europe as a nonstarter. That leaves the best-case scenario as a long and dangerous diplomatic slog toward a difficult settlement — a process that could consume Western resources and attention for many months. (Source: nytimes.com)
4. North Korea boasted on Tuesday that it is one of only a handful of countries in the world to field nuclear weapons and advanced missiles and the only one standing up to the United States by “shaking the world” with missile tests. International tension has been rising over a recent series of North Korean ballistic missile tests, actions long banned by the U.N. Security Council. January was a record month of such tests, with at least seven launches, including a new type of “hypersonic missile” able to maneuver at high speed. Also among the tests was the first firing since 2017 of a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile, capable of striking U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean. (Source: japantimes.com)
5. Once considered fringe, extremist elements in India are increasingly taking their militant message into the mainstream, stirring up communal hate in a push to reshape India’s constitutionally protected secular republic into a Hindu state. Activists and analysts say their agenda is being enabled, even normalized, by political leaders and law enforcement officials who offer tacit endorsements by not directly addressing such divisive issues. “You have persons giving hate speech, actually calling for genocide of an entire group, and we find reluctance of the authorities to book these people,” Rohinton Fali Nariman, a recently retired Indian Supreme Court judge, said in a public lecture. “Unfortunately, the other higher echelons of the ruling party are not only being silent on hate speech, but almost endorsing it.” A remarkable story. (Source: nytimes.com)
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