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Russian armored columns said to capture key Ukrainian towns

Russian soldiers, tanks and heavy artillery began rolling into southeastern Ukraine in earnest Thursday, the Ukrainian government said, as well-armed detachments captured key towns, burned buildings and sent the underequipped Ukrainian forces into full retreat — a show of military force that the United States now considers an invasion in all but name. U.S. officials began saying privately for the ... Read More »

NATO: These new satellite images show Russian troops in and around Ukraine

NATO released satellite images on Thursday of what it said were Russian artillery, vehicles and troops in and around eastern Ukraine, just as Ukrainian officials said Russian troops in armored vehicles captured the Ukrainian town of Novoazovsk, along its southeastern coastline. The satellite photos appear to show Russian vehicles and troops in numerous locations. NATO officials said that the first image ... Read More »

Air Encounter More Likely to Cause Alarm Than Change

Although China and the United States have long been at odds over American surveillance flights near Chinese territory, the all-too-close encounter of an American spy plane and a Chinese fighter last week has forced both countries to consider the potential for the dispute to escalate disastrously. During a get-to-know-you visit by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to China in ... Read More »

US, South Korea quietly end Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise

 The biggest U.S.-South Korea war games ended Thursday as they began, with little fanfare, in what may have been an attempt by the allies to avoid provoking North Korea. Approximately 50,000 South Korean troops and 30,000 U.S. troops — about 3,000 of whom were brought in from outside the peninsula — took part in this year’s Ulchi Freedom Guardian, a ... Read More »

Japanese Defense Ministry Requests 2.4% Budget Hike

Japan’s Ministry of Defense has requested a budget increase of 2.4 percent in 2015 for a total budget of ¥4.9 trillion ($47.25 billion), returning the budget to its 1990s peak levels and solidifying a reversal from a decade of declines during the 2000s. Citing the need to counter growing instability in East Asia, the MoD said its most pressing need ... Read More »

AFRICOM postpones training Libyan troops

U.S. Africa Command’s plan to train Libyan military forces is on hold given escalating clashes among rival militias that the country’s U.N. ambassador warned Wednesday could plunge the country into civil war. The training, initially scheduled for the summer, was pushed back and now will not happen before next year. “We are still analyzing the new conditions and our capabilities ... Read More »

Collapsing Libya Sucks In Egypt With Gulf Ally in Islamist Fight

Egypt has won the United Arab Emirates’ support for a crackdown on Islamists and there are signs the collaboration is extending beyond its borders. U.S. officials say the U.A.E. and Egypt were behind air strikes in the Libyan capital in the past week. Egypt has denied its forces were involved, while the U.A.E. said claims of its intervention were an ... Read More »

Libya’s Proxy Apocalypse

The mystery warplanes that thundered in on Islamist militias fighting for control of the Libyan capital this week are harbingers of a widening regional conflict. The Libyan chaos following the U.S.-backed ouster of strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 has opened the way to a proxy war among regional and global powers that Washington appears utterly unable to contain – even ... Read More »

Syrian rebels seize Golan Heights border crossing

Rebels aided by al Qaeda-linked militants seized control of the only border crossing between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Wednesday. The capture of the Quneitra crossing by Syrian rebels, including members of the al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, represents a new dynamic in a war long feared not only for its deadly effects inside Syria but for threatening to ... Read More »

Heavy Use of Banned Cluster Bombs Reported in Syria

Cluster bombs, outlawed munitions that kill and maim indiscriminately, have caused more casualties in the Syrian civil war than in the 2006 Lebanon conflict, when Israel’s heavy use of the weapons hastened the treaty banning them two years later, a monitoring group said Wednesday. The group, the Cluster Munition Coalition, said in an annual report, “Cluster Munition Monitor 2014,” that ... Read More »

After more than 2,100 deaths, the Gaza war ends where it began

In war, nobody wants to be the last to die. In Gaza, it was the chief of the electric company’s maintenance division and his deputy. In Israel, it was a pair of volunteers working a security detail on their kibbutz. The four deaths on Tuesday, hours before an open-ended cease-fire began between Israel and Hamas, reflected the often indiscriminate, opaque ... Read More »

Turkey’s Ruling Party Elects Davutoglu Prime Minister

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Wednesday officially elected Ahmet Davutoglu, foreign minister, as the party’s new leader and the country’s new prime minister. The current premier and party chair, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will be inaugurated as Turkey’s president on Thursday. Erdogan, who was elected president on Aug. 10, convened the party’s 20-member Central Executive Board (MYK) on ... Read More »

Iran Altering Reactor in Bid for Nuclear Deal

Atomic power engineers in Iran have started redesigning a partly constructed reactor in the northwest city of Arak to limit the amount of plutonium it produces, the country’s top nuclear official said Wednesday, expressing hope that the change would help alleviate Western objections that the plutonium could be used in weapons. The official, Ali Akbar Salehi, the director of the ... Read More »

Russian and Ukraine troops battle in south, prompting fears that invasion has begun

Fighting between the Ukrainian military and what Ukrainian and Western officials say are Russian troops worsened early Thursday, prompting fears in Ukraine that a Russian invasion of their territory has begun. Ukrainian officials say Ukrainian troops are continuing to battle combined Russian and separatist forces on a new southern front around the border town of Novoazovsk, east of Crimea on ... Read More »