Foreign Policy – Keith Johnson, Amy MacKinnon & Robbie Gramer / Putin pushes Russia-Ukraine tensions to a four-year high
- By interdicting ships headed for Ukrainian ports such as Mariupol and Berdyansk, Russia has cost Ukraine millions of dollars. Further weakening southern Ukraine fits Moscow’s longer-term goal of destabilizing its neighbor, especially ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election due in March.
- “If the West’s reaction is too weak, the idea is to cut off Ukraine from the Black Sea and leave it a rump state,” said Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. On Monday, the EU, NATO, and the UN all convened separate meetings to consider how to respond to Russia’s latest move.
- According to a bilateral 2003 treaty, Ukraine and Russia consider the Sea of Azov as internal waters not subject to international laws of the sea. That technically limits the ability of outside countries to send ships through the Kerch Strait and into the Sea of Azov. Yet Russia itself has violated the bilateral agreement by restricting Ukraine’s access.
- One possible response to Russia’s behavior could be a stronger NATO naval presence in the Black Sea. Another likely outcome of the Kerch crisis will be renewed calls for additional economic sanctions on Russia.
- BBC / Why Ukraine-Russia sea clash is fraught with risk
Politico – Maïa de la Baume / Brexit deal gives Barnier platform for Commission presidency
- The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, declined to run for the nomination of the European People’s Party (EPP).
- However, EPP’s Spitzenkandidat Manfred Weber has never held high executive office and many in the EU doubt he will end up as Commission president. Barnier, by contrast, has served two terms as a European commissioner and held senior ministerial posts in his native France. He has also won plaudits from across the EU — and across political divides — for his work on Brexit.
- The European Parliament has declared it is ready to reject any nominee who did not run as a Spitzenkandidat in the election. European leaders, meanwhile, have made clear they won’t be bound by the Spitzenkandidat process, leaving open the possibility they could nominate someone else for the Commission presidency.
- Another hurdle for Barnier is that he would need the backing of French President Emmanuel Macron. But, “if there is an opportunity for Barnier to be the next president of the Commission, I don’t see how France and Macron could refuse that,” said an En Marche member of the French parliament.
Euractiv – Jorge Valero / ECB urges completion of monetary union in ‘unstable’ world
- On Monday, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi called for the completion of the eurozone framework and to reduce divergencies between West and East members in order to protect the euro in a more “unstable” world.
- Draghi listed three priorities: strengthening the policy coordination, establishing a fiscal instrument for the eurozone to absorb economic shocks, and completing the banking union and an “ambitious” capital markets union.
- “If there is no credible prospect of lower-income countries catching up soon, there is a risk that people living in those countries begin questioning the very benefits of membership of the EU or the currency union,” said ECB’s Executive board member Benoit Coeure.
- Draghi told the European Parliament that the economic data gathered since September was “somewhat weaker than expected.” But despite this worrying signals, the Italian confirmed that the ECB will end its bond-buying program next month.
The Guardian – Emily Holden / Trump on own administration’s climate report: ‘I don’t believe it’
- US President Donald Trump has told reporters he doesn’t believe his own government’s climate change findings that the US economy will suffer substantially with continued warming from greenhouse gas pollution.
- “I’ve seen it, I’ve read some of it, and it’s fine,” Trump said outside the White House on Monday. “I don’t believe it.”
- According to the report, called the National Climate Assessment, “With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century – more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many US states.”
- The Trump administration also published another report on climate change on Friday, laying out that oil and gas produced from drilling on public land accounted for almost a quarter of carbon dioxide pollution in the US between 2004 and 2015.
The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.