Russian Bailout for Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced yesterday his country will be offering the Ukraine $15 billion in loans and a deep discount on natural gas imports in an effort to prevent the mother of Russian cities from defaulting. The move highlighted the efficiency advantages Putin’s economic bloc enjoys over the bureaucratically-choked European Union. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier acknowledged as much, saying “The only thing I’m sure of is that we presented a financial and economic aid package that lay far behind what was necessary) to keep Ukraine competitive and permanently tie it economically to Europe.”
Despite no clear alternatives to the bailout, the offer drew jeers from thousands of anti-government protesters who remain encamped in Ukraine’s Independence Square. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a member of the Fatherland coalition, reminded gathered protestors that “Free cheese is only found in a mousetrap.” Putin did not suggest what the Ukraine might offer Russia in return, and went further to repudiate the notion that his economic lifeline is predicated upon Ukrainian entrance into the Eurasian Economic Community.
Internecine Clashes in South Sudan
Non-essential staff were ordered to evacuate the U.S. embassy in South Sudan today, as rival troops fired upon each other throughout the country. More than 73 soldiers have already died since President Salva Kiir accused forces loyal to former vice president Riek Machar of staging a coup attempt yesterday. A UN envoy estimated at least 10,000 civilians “have received protection in the two UNMISS compounds in Juba”, and that UN staff were “taking every possible step to ensure their safety”. And while a curfew has been declared in the capital city of Juba, civilian casualties have rapidly overwhelmed the city’s hospitals. The International Committee of the Red Cross’ Felicity Gapes said more than 300 people have been admitted to her teaching hospital, and worried, “Staff in both hospitals have been working around the clock, but they are struggling because of the sheer volume of patients and the severity of the injuries.”
Israel Arrests Asylum Seekers
More than 200 African asylum-seekers in Israel who walked from an open detention facility in the southern Negev desert to Jerusalem, in order to protest a law allowing their indefinite detention, were “violently” arrested by police and will be taken to prison. The law, passed a week ago, ostensibly targeted so-called “infiltrators”, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party members characterized as “human ticking time bomb[s]“. Meretz party member Zahava Galon rejected that language, asking “Is this how we, as a people who have sought asylum, treat human beings?” As protestors arrived in front of the Knesset, roughly 48 hours after the migrant marchers left the desert detention center, police began violently arresting them.
More than 50,000 Africans are currently living in Israel, most of them fleeing conflicts in Eritrea or Sudan. According to Israeli human rights organization, the association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Galon’s criticism may fall on deaf ears. In a 2012 report ACRI wrote, ”The prevalent attitude toward African asylum seekers in Israel in 2012 was one of racism and xenophobia. Over the course of the year, Israeli citizens burned, beat, cursed, and looted on a scale and in a manner never seen before.”
Many of the migrants who marched on the Knesset today had already been imprisoned for up to two years without trial. Mubarak Ali, one of the migrants, told Israel Radio “We want them to know that we are still in a prison … (although) they call it open detention.” While Anwar Suleiman, a native of Darfur added, “I can’t go back to my country because they’ll kill me. So how can you say you’ll jail me until you can return me to there?”
Indo-American Diplomatic Row Escalates
Indian authorities have removed concrete barriers surrounding the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi today. While officials have refused to comment on why the embassy barricades, which were in place to prevent vehicles from approaching at high speeds, were taken away, Indian television networks reported their removal was one of a number of retaliatory measures the Indian government will make over the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade. Khobragade was arrested and strip searched in New York City late last week, for allegedly underpaying her nanny and committing visa fraud to get her into the United States, despite ostensibly enjoying diplomatic immunity from prosecution.