Tensions Rise In Russia
Following the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was shot to death late Friday, thousands took to the streets of Moscow in protest and to urge people to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine.
While the arrest by Moscow police of Ukrainian parliament member Oleksiy Goncharenko before the elections increased tensions, it did not dissuade the marchers, reports Sputnik International.
Government officials have offered a list of possible reasons for Nemtsov’s murder, but the leading theories promoted are that radical Islamists or Nationalists were behind his killing, both of which could be used to justify a clampdown by the Kremlin, suggests Nikolas Gvosdev of The National Interest.
And that the location of his murder, he adds, has sent a chill throughout Moscow and is a warning shot to the West.
“Nemtsov’s death may tip the scales for additional American sanctions on Russia, given that a new set of measures was already being contemplated after separatists seized Debaltseve. It most certainly strengthens the argument that no normalization of U.S.-Russia relations is possible as long as Putin remains in the Kremlin. But it also suggests that the hope of finding an acceptable “exit ramp” to de-escalate the crisis is fading. Putin has staked his political survival and the survival of his government on halting the expansion of the Euro-Atlantic world eastward. Ukraine is not a game he is prepared to lose gracefully. We ignore this point at our peril,” he concludes.
Netanyahu In Washington
This week’s visit to Washington, DC by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could make a significant point in relations between the US and Israel, as well as the future of negotiations related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Haim Malka, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, offers a simple and balanced backgrounder on the visit by Netanyahu this week.
The controversy stirred by Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress has overtaken the actual event and has been used by both supporters and opponents for political purposes.
Today, Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein came out to decry the Israeli leader, asserting that he does not speak for American Jews after Netanyahu contended his responsibility was to speak for the Jewish community.
“He doesn’t speak for me on this,” the Democrat from California said, appearing on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday. “I think it’s a rather arrogant statement. I think the Jewish community is like any other community. There are different points of view. I think that arrogance does not befit, Israel, candidly.”
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry asserted that he is “welcome” to speak in the US, despite the public criticism of the speech by other administration officials., but that the US deserves the “benefit of the doubt” concerning its negotiations with Iran.
However, the fallout has some concerned that the controversy could hurt relations between the longstanding allies.
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