RUSSIA EXECUTES EUROPEAN AERIAL MANEUVERS “Russian military aircraft conducted aerial maneuvers around Europe this week on a scale seldom seen since the end of the Cold War, prompting NATO jets to scramble in another sign of how raw East-West relations have grown. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization said that more than two dozen Russian aircraft in four groups were intercepted and tracked on Tuesday and Wednesday, an unusually high level of activity that the alliance said could have endangered passing civilian flights.” Ukraine and Russia will resume talks today. [WSJ]
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 broke apart in the air after being hit by a burst of “high-energy objects,” a preliminary report by Dutch aviation investigators said Tuesday.
The Boeing 777 “broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside,” a press release accompanying the report said.
“There are no indications that the MH17 crash was caused by a technical fault or by actions of the crew,” the statement said.
Flight 17 came down in eastern Ukraine on July 17 in an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Of the 298 people killed, around two-thirds were Dutch.
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UKRAINE RETRACTS ‘CEASE-FIRE’ LANGUAGE “The office of President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine said Wednesday that he and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had a similar understanding about what was needed to achieve a cease-fire in southeastern Ukraine, but it retracted a statement it had made earlier in the day that said the two men had agreed to a ‘lasting cease-fire.’ The initial statement, posted on the presidential website, went too far in describing the results of a telephone call between the two leaders as having reached a cease-fire, said a spokesman, noting that a revised version would be posted shortly.” The news, which comes just as President Obama is landing in the Baltics, is doing wonders for the markets despite an undercurrent of uncertainty. [NYT]
NATO CONSIDERS ‘RAPID-RESPONSE’ FORCES “The new force of some 4,000 troops, capable of moving on 48 hours’ notice, will be supported with logistics and equipment pre-positioned in Eastern European countries closer to Russia, with an upgraded schedule of military exercises and deployments that are intended to make NATO’s commitment of collective defense more credible and enhance its deterrence. The agreement is planned as the substantive centerpiece of the NATO meeting, which will take place Thursday and Friday and will be attended by President Obama, who will also stop in Estonia before the summit meeting.” In response, Russia says it plans to “revise its military doctrine.” Russia’s ruble has hit the “lowest level ever” in anticipation of further sanctions. [NYT]