As they did in Crimea, gun-wielding pro-Moscow militants are taking over government buildings in eastern Ukraine, posing something of a dilemma for the interim government in Kiev. Without a forceful response, it could risk a repeat of Russia's near-bloodless takeover of Crimea, starting with eastern cities like Donetsk and Slavyansk, or it could fight back and risk giving Russia a pretext to send troops in ostensibly to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine. With the militant activity expanding, President Oleksandr Turchynov chose the former course.
"The Council of National Security and Defense has decided to carry out a large-scale anti-terrorist operation with the use of armed forces of Ukraine," Turchynov said Sunday afternoon. "We won't allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario in the eastern region of Ukraine." He softened the news a little bit, promising amnesty to protesters to leave peacefully without firing shots and offering greater local governance to eastern provinces.
Russia responded by calling for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Sunday night, where Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin argued that the world's powers should stop Ukraine from using force. The U.S. incited the anti-Moscow demonstrations in Kiev that led to the ouster of pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych, Churkin alleged, "so now the U.S. is going to encourage this criminal use of force?.... In just a few hours' time things might take an irreversible turn for the worse."
The U.S., Europe, and Ukraine countered with evidence that the well-armed militants leading the takeover of Ukrainian government buildings are Russian commandos. But forget about that for a minute.
The idea that Russia would argue that a government doesn't have the right to quell uprisings within its own borders would be darkly comical if the situation weren't so serious. Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that no other countries interfere as he brutally crushed Islamic separatist movements in Checnhya and Dagestan — though, to be fair, the U.S. at least wasn't overly sympathetic toward Russia's Islamist militants in the post-9/11 Chechen crackdowns. And it was right after meeting with Putin at the Sochi Olympics that Yanukovych started his ill-fated crackdown on the Ukrainian protesters camped out in Kiev's Maidan square.
If any other country were dealing with an armed separatist movement within its borders, Russia would applaud its strong hand and warn other countries to back off. I wouldn't be surprised if Turchynov chose his words — "anti-terrorist operation" — primarily for Russia's benefit. Peter Weber
Following the release of video clips in which controversial Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos appears to be condoning pedophilia, Simon & Schuster announced it will no longer be publishing his autobiography, Dangerous.
The book was set to be released in June, with Yiannopoulos receiving a reported $250,000 book deal from the conservative Threshold Editions imprint, but on Monday, Simon & Schuster said that after "careful consideration," they decided to cancel the publication of Dangerous. Moments later, Yiannopoulos, who was banned from Twitter for inciting or engaging in targeted abuse and harassment, confirmed on Facebook that "they canceled my book."
On Sunday, the video clips, released by a conservative blog, went viral, and on Monday, the American Conservative Union announced Yiannopoulos was no longer invited to speak at the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference. Fox Business Network is also reporting that the right-wing Breitbart website is considering firing Yiannopoulos. On his Facebook page, Yiannopoulos said he does "not support pedophilia," declaring it is a "vile and disgusting crime, perhaps the very worst," and called the videos "selectively edited." Catherine Garcia
President Donald Trump has named Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser, The Associated Press reports. McMaster replaces Michael Flynn, who resigned from the post last week.
The announcement came after Trump spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, interviewing four candidates for the position before settling on McMaster, whom he called "a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience."
McMaster is a respected military strategist known for his knowledge in counterterrorism, The New York Times reports:
General McMaster is seen as one of the Army's leading intellectuals, first making a name for himself with a searing critique of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their performance during the Vietnam War and later criticizing the way President George W. Bush's administration went to war in Iraq. [The New York Times]
Flynn resigned after it was revealed that he discussed Russian sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump had been inaugurated. Flynn had told Vice President Mike Pence the discussions never happened. Jessica Hullinger
Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial editor of Breitbart News, has been disinvited from speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, one of the largest gatherings of conservative activists in the country. The news came after a weekend of uproar after video clips surfaced appearing to show Yiannopoulos condoning pedophilia.
Yiannopoulos initially responded in a Facebook post titled "A note for idiots," in which he said, "I do not support pedophilia. Period. It is a vile and disgusting crime, perhaps the very worst. There are selectively edited videos doing the rounds, as part of a coordinated effort to discredit me from establishment Republicans, that suggest I am soft on the subject."
On Monday, the American Conservative Union, which sponsors the conference, released a statement saying Yiannopoulos' invitation had been rescinded. "We continue to believe that CPAC is a constructive forum for controversies and disagreements among conservatives, however there is no disagreement among our attendees on the evils of sexual abuse of children," ACU president Matt Schlapp said.
In a follow-up Facebook post, Yiannopoulos chalked the whole thing up to misunderstanding and deceptive video editing: "I understand that my usual blend of British sarcasm, provocation, and gallows humor might have come across as flippancy, a lack of care for other victims or, worse, 'advocacy.' I deeply regret that."
President Trump is scheduled to speak at the conference Friday. Jessica Hullinger
Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died suddenly in New York on Monday, Russian officials say. He was 64. Officials say Churkin fell ill and was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where he later died. The cause of his illness was not immediately known, though the New York Post reports he suffered from a "cardiac condition."
The Associated Press says Churkin, who had been the ambassador for more than a decade, "had a reputation for an acute wit and sharp repartee especially with his American and Western counterparts." His death comes one day before he was to turn 65.
Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout. Jessica Hullinger
On Sunday's Last Week Tonight, John Oliver took aim at President Donald Trump's cozy relationship with Russia. "He does have a weird, noticeably soft spot for both the country and its leader," Oliver said, hammering the point home with a compilation video of the numerous times Trump has complimented, praised, or otherwise flattered Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"It's a bit weird," Oliver says. "You've been objectively nicer to Vladimir Putin than you have to Meryl Streep."
But the real meat of the segment is in analyzing what we actually know about Putin ("He annexed Crimea, imposed severe fines and long prison terms on protesters, propped up the brutal Assad regime, and signed a harsh anti-gay propaganda law."), why he remains so popular, and what Trump's wish that America could just "get along" with Russia would actually mean for democratic values.
"Trump is basically the propagandist of Putin's dreams," Oliver says. Take a look below, although be warned: There is lots of NSFW language. Jessica Hullinger
Russian President Vladimir Putin really wants to know what goes on in President Trump's head. NBC News reports that the Kremlin is compiling a document that outlines and analyzes Trump's psychological makeup, for Putin to use in preparation for a future meeting between the two politicians.
The report is apparently updated with new information regularly, and takes notes on Trump's behavior during his first few weeks in the White House, former Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Fedorov says. "Among the preliminary conclusions? The new American leader is a risk-taker but can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser," NBC News reports. Fedorov also adds that the Kremlin has noticed that Trump views the presidency like one of his businesses.
NBC notes that it's normal for leaders to be briefed on one another before meeting, but "preparing a detailed dossier on the mind and instincts of a U.S. leader is unusual." The Kremlin's confidence in Trump's ability to smooth over America's relationship with Russia — or lift sanctions imposed by former President Obama following Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election — seems to be waning. Jessica Hullinger
Uber is launching an 'urgent investigation' into stunning claims of sexual harassment by a female former employee
Uber has launched an "urgent investigation" into claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, and seemingly incompetent HR policies after a former employee published a stunning confessional about her time with the company. Susan Fowler, a former site reliability engineer who joined Uber in 2015, published a long blog post on her website outlining her time with the ride-hailing company, and why she left. In the post, she paints a damning picture of a company where women are targeted and undermined by managers and HR representatives alike.
Fowler claims her manager made sexual advances toward her via online chat. She said she took screenshots of the messages and showed them to human resources, but was told that her boss was a "high performer" and senior managers didn't want to punish him for something they saw as an "innocent mistake." She later discovered other women in the company experienced similar abuse, and received equally insufficient responses from the HR department.
After a series of meetings with HR, things came to a head:
The HR rep began the meeting by asking me if I had noticed that *I* was the common theme in all of the reports I had been making, and that if I had ever considered that I might be the problem ... Less than a week after this absurd meeting, my manager scheduled a 1:1 with me, and told me we needed to have a difficult conversation. He told me I was on very thin ice for reporting his manager to HR. [Susan Fowler]