West pulls punches on sanctions for Russia over Crimea. EU whittles down list of targets

Both the US and European Union held back Monday, March 17, from harshly punishing Russia for going through with the Crimean referendum, which overwhelmingly approved union with Russia. The US imposed travel bans and froze the assets of seven top Russians and three Ukrainians, while the European foreign ministers in Brussels listed 21 mostly unnamed targets for those same sanctions for a period of six months.

President Barack Obama warned Moscow not to go any further but rather to engage in dialogue for resolving the Ukraine crisis diplomatically. Continue reading

UK and France: only weapons will make al-Assad talk

BRUSSELS – Britain and France have said the only way to get Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to talk is to threaten him with arming rebels.

The foreign ministers of the EU’s top military powers – William Hague and Laurent Fabius – made their case in a joint letter, seen by EUobserver, sent to EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton on 21 March. Continue reading

EU Plans to Create New Military Headquarters

France plans to use the European Union’s military mission in Mali as a “Trojan horse” to create an EU military headquarters, the Telegraph reported November 11, citing a “senior French Defense Ministry source.” France is also planning a “major offensive” to stop individual nations from being able to veto defense issues.

The report comes ahead of a meeting between Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Poland in Paris to discuss how to move forward on European defense. Continue reading