Russia last month completed the first land link that North Korea’s Stalinist regime has allowed to the outside world since 2003. Running between Khasan in Russia’s southeastern corner and North Korea’s rebuilt port of Rajin, the 54-kilometer rail link is part of a project President Putin is pushing that would reunite the railway systems of the two Koreas and tie them to the Trans-Siberian Railway.
That would give Putin partial control over links to European train networks 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) away. The route is as much as three times faster than shipping via Egypt’s Suez Canal, which handles 17,000 ships a year, accounts for about 8 percent of maritime trade — and is increasingly beset by pirates and political instability in Egypt and Syria. Continue reading
Given all the Germany-bashing over the last week, in the wake of the Cyprus bailout deal (some of it completely ridiculous), it’s easy to forget that the Germans themselves are remarkably united over the agreement. In fact, the feeling is that Germany, collectively, just got a fair bit more assertive over its eurozone policy.
On Friday, before a new agreement was finally reached and with Cyprus’ euro membership on the line, German Chancellor Angela Merkel – reportedly in an angry mood – told MPs from her coalition parties that it was wrong for Cyprus to “test” Europe and that while she preferred to see to see Cyprus stay in the single currency but was prepared for an exit. Continue reading