No Russians in UN peacekeeping mission in Donbass
When asked if it is possible for Russians to participate in the peacekeeping mission in Donbas, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker said: “I can’t imagine it.” A limited UN peacekeeping mission was suggested by Vladimir Putin earlier in September during the BRICS summit in China. However, there are concerns on the side of Kiev and the EU that this proposal is not entirely sincere. Putin could have a number of reasons to request the presence of UN peacekeepers: to freeze the conflict in its current state, to appear as a peacemaker for the coming Russian 2018 presidential election or to blame Kiev and the US for the proposal’s expected failure. Petro Poroshenko countered with his own plan for a UN mission, which would cover the entire conflict zone and the border with Russia. A mission in this form could isolate the insurgent-controlled areas and restrict Russian support. For this reason, it will probably meet with strong opposition from Moscow.
Tillerson’s Surprise Visit to Afghanistan: The story of disappearing clock
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a secret two-hour visit to the main American air base in Bagram, Afghanistan on October 23. His visit was preceded by a surge in violence. On Saturday, 15 people were killed in a suicide bombing targeting a military academy. On Friday, 60 people died in attacks on mosques in Kabul and in the province Ghor while the day before, 43 Afghan soldiers were killed at the Chashmawi military base.
— Reading The Pictures (@ReadingThePix) October 30, 2017
Tillerson met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to discuss the new US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia. The visit was a part of Tillerson’s week-long trip around Asia. The central topic of the trip was the new strategy which relies on the support of regional powers. Tillerson remained optimistic when wrapping up his trip, saying that: “What we’ve received in the region is enormously positive over the South Asian strategy.” However, the recent surge in terror attacks shows that the Afghan insurgents still have abundant power and reach.
The Afghan visit grabbed the attention of the internet for another reason: the question of a photoshopped picture, released by the Afghan President Press Release, to hide the fact that the meeting took place in Bagram rather than Kabul:
Between these two pictures of same bagram meeting btwn Rex Tillerson & Ashraf ghani, The wall clock disappeared & Rex's suit changed colour pic.twitter.com/vCwGiHuibQ
— Asfandyar Bhittani (@BhittaniKhannnn) October 24, 2017
Duterte’s triumph against ISIS in the Philippines
On October 17 the President of Philippines Rodrigo Duterte declared the town of Marawi liberated from the Islamic State. The battle for control lasted for five months since May when the Filipino Jihadi group Abu Sayyaf laid siege to a town. This marks the end of the last attempt to establish a South Asian outpost for the Islamic State. Around thousand people were killed and hundreds of thousands were displaced during the conflict. The city still remains a booby-trapped ruin. Some positive news came in the wake of the crisis, when the Philippine government struck a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation, the main armed Muslim movement.
— Mete Sohtaoğlu (@metesohtaoglu) October 17, 2017
The situation is still tense and the fight against violent extremism is far from over. Re-building Marawi is essential to calm the tensions. Despite the frequent attacks on the U.S. by President Duterte, American troops provided training for fighting in urban areas, as well as reconnaissance and air-cover
Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi freed from "terrorists". What's next for the city left in ruins? pic.twitter.com/1EvLl7wVl7
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 18, 2017
Duterte is known for his personal aversion towards the US and attempting to side with China and Russia. October has also seen a new boost in the defence talks between Russia and the Philippines. New military-technical cooperation between the two countries was struck on October 24, and a day later a grant from Russia, in the form of weapons, equipment and vehicles, reached Manila.
STRATPOL Memos is a project which on a bi-weekly basis provides a short overview of the most important selected moments of Euro-Atlantic security and related areas. Our goal is to provide brief and informative comments with short analysis putting news into broader context.
Responsible editor Ondřej Zacha.
Text has not undergone language revision.