Friday, August 19, 2016

Merkel To Continue Sanctions On Russia, Chinese Fleet Conduct 'Confrontation' War Games In Sea Of Japan, Cold War Chill

Merkel Sees No End to Sanctions on Moscow

While a number of Western officials have expressed an openness to lifting anti-Russia sanctions, the German chancellor remains steadfast.

In June, French lawmakers voted 302 to 16 to lift sanctions against Moscow, given the impact of counter-sanctions on France’s own economy. A number of EU members have made similar considerations, including Germany.
"German businesses have been at least as concerned about the impact of sanctions against themselves," political analyst Bunn Nagara wrote in an articlefor Malaysian daily The Star Online. "No less than the German Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister have been floating the prospect of rolling back sanctions against Russia."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, appears to be resisting this trend. Speaking to RedaktionsNetzwerks Deutschland (RND) on Friday, the German leader indicated that she sees no end to the sanctions.

"Europe had to react against this violation of basic principles," she said, referring to repeatedly rebuffed claims of Russia’s involvement in ongoing internal political instability in Eastern Ukraine.

Moscow has, however, repeatedly pointed out that Kiev has been conducting military operations against Donbass independence supporters.
"It is clear why it was done," Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, referring to the Ukraine’s recent attempt to sabotage critical infrastructure on the Crimean peninsula. "They [Kiev] do not want or are unable to implement Minsk agreements for whatever reasons. And they cannot explain to their own people the significant lapses in socio-economic policy."

As tensions increase between Beijing and Tokyo over the Senkaku islands, China has performed “confrontation” exercises in the Sea of Japan.

In recent weeks, tensions have flared over a chain of disputed islands in the East China Sea. While Japan announced plans to install new land-to-sea missile systems on the southernmost point of the Okinawa prefecture, China has deployed a number of coast guard vessels to the region.
According to the state-run People’s Liberation Army Daily, Beijing has now conducted military drills in the neighboring Sea of Japan.
The "confrontation" exercises were carried out between two Chinese naval fleets returning from the US-hosted Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, held in Hawaii. One fleet involved the missile destroyer Xi’an, the missile frigate Hengshu, and supply ship Gaoyouhu.
"The precision strike against ‘enemy’ maritime strength jointly launched by warships and naval aviation force…was highlighted in the confrontation drill," the PLA Daily report reads.
Earlier this week, Tokyo released footage of Chinese vessels encroaching on contested waters near the Senkakus in the East China Sea.
"Your ship has intruded into the territorial waters of our country," said an electronic message sent from the Japanese patrol ship Aguni to one of the Chinese vessels, according to the Japan Times.
Beijing claims ownership of the islands, which are known in Chinese as the Diaoyus, dating to their discovery in the 14th century. Tokyo maintains that it formally owned the chain between 1895 and the end of World War II, when they were ceded to the United States, until being returned in 1971.

As Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has expressed interest in renewing ties with Russia, the US Congress seems to be scrambling to ensure that ties between Washington and Moscow will remain sour.

During a news conference last month, Trump suggested that he "would be looking into" acknowledging Crimea as part of Russia, a reversal of current US policy that refuses to recognize a referendum in which 96% of the peninsula’s residents voted for reunification with the Russian Federation.
Trump’s statements have caused panic with hawks in Washington, and US lawmakers are hoping to pass the STAND for Ukraine Act, which would make it significantly more difficult for a new administration to improve relations with Russia.
The bill, introduced by Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel of New York and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, would effectively make it impossible to remove certain anti-Russian sanctions unless Crimea is returned to Ukraine.

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