Yesterday, Cody and I flagged the news that a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, en route to Kuala Lumpur, had crashed in Ukraine near the border with Russia.
U.S. officials confirmed yesterday that the plane had been shot down The New York Times reports that the perpetrators allegedly used a Russian-made surface-to-air missile. According to the Associated Press, Ukraine has blamed pro-Russian militants for the crash. In support of these statements, the Ukrainian Secret Service released a video containing a sound recording of a Russian intelligence official and a rebel discussing the attack. The Washington Post shares the video. According to the Hill, both Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday suggested that the Russian separatists may be responsible. Today, President Obama announced that current U.S. intelligence indicates that the rebels are, in fact, to blame for shooting down the airliner. The Times has details on his statements.
Investigation into the crash has begun. But, per the Post, the inquiry may already be compromised. On that point, speaking to CBS News, former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Mark Rosenker noted, “It’s a contaminated site” due to stolen parts. And the Times reports that the plane’s data and audio recording devices appear to be missing. Both the Ukrainian government and rebel forces claim to have them.
Of the investigation, President Obama declared, “[t]he United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why.” Yesterday, he spoke separately with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Politico notes that the crash certainly adds “new pressure on the White House and European leaders to address the conflict in Ukraine and confront… Putin.” Apropos: Stars and Stripes says that the U.N. Security Council met today at 10 a.m. to discuss the situation in Ukraine. According to the Post, during the discussion, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power outlined the conclusions of the United States: “Our assessment is that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17… was likely downed by an SA-11 missile, operated from a separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine.” The Times Editorial Board argues that the one person who can end the violence is Putin.
In a Post op-ed, David Ignatius examines how European energy needs complicate the sanctions process against Russia. Indeed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced today that sanctions against Russia in response to the plane crash would be “premature.” The Hill has more on her statements.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the CIA station chief in Berlin has left Germany, following a request from the Berlin government that he do so.
Israel launched a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip yesterday. According to the Post, “Israel chose to launch a ground offensive after exhausting other options.” This morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for “a significant expansion” of the attack. The AP describes the current situation in Gaza. In a daily press briefing, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki declared, “We are increasingly concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides… [and] heartbroken by the high civilian death toll in Gaza.” In an interview with the AP, the Palestinian U.N. envoy said he hoped for an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire to end the violence soon. In a Post op-ed, though, Eugene Robinson is doubtful, writing that we may not see an Israeli-Palestinian peace “in our lifetimes.”
According to the Hill, yesterday, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee defeated an amendment from Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR). It would have denied the Obama administration’s $500 million request to arm and train Syrian rebels.
In the Daily Beast, Christopher Dickey argues that the U.S. should let Iran handle the situation in Iraq. Meanwhile, in a Post op-ed, American Enterprise Institute research fellow Katherine Zimmerman articulates why the Obama administration’s strategy in Yemen should not serve as a model for U.S. policy in Iraq and Syria.
The Times informs us that an audit of nearly eight million ballots cast during the Afghanistan election commenced yesterday.
From the Daily Beast: following the assault on Kabul International Airport, a number of Pakistani Taliban militants have moved into Afghanistan to assist in attacks there.
Although the global violence seems overwhelming, Fareed Zakaria in a Post op-ed asserts that it is actually “not the worst of times.”
The Guardian shares an interview with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. During the discussion, Snowden declares, “Regardless of what happens, if I end up in chains in Guantanamo, I can live with that.” The Hill has more on the quote.
On Wednesday, a judge for the Southern District of New York sentenced Ahmed Abassi, a Tunisian man who allegedly had wanted to use bacterial agents to contaminate the U.S. air and water supply, to time served. Following the hearing, Abassi will be deported to his home country. The Times shares the story.
The AP notes that Pvt. Chelsea Manning will begin receiving gender treatment at the military prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
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