The main reason to believe that, global protestations aside, Russian President Vladimir Putin has already achieved his key goals by occupying the strategically important Ukrainian region of Crimea is the example of Georgia. In the common understanding of the 2008 five-day war, Russia invaded its Western-looking neighbor and essentially kept the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as door prizes. (Russia, and Russia alone, recognizes the regions as autonomous.) The West stood by, talking mildly tough but not acting.
But that's a misunderstanding of the Georgia war, says Asaf Ronel in Israel's Haaretz. "While Putin did succeed in preventing American soldiers from being stationed on his southern border, he lost his hold on Georgia completely." Ronel continues:
The parallels between the Georgia of 2008 and Ukraine today indicate that Putin's decision to send troops to Crimea was a tactical achievement, but one that damaged Russia strategically... Any attempt to predict Putin's moves is playing with fire, but it is certainly possible that he will try to stir instability in areas in the southeast of Ukraine, and thus justify broader military involvement. However, commentators say he will run into stronger opposition from the Ukrainian army if he sends troops beyond Crimea. Even if Putin takes the soil- and resource-rich areas of the east away from Kiev, Russia has apparently still lost Kiev. [Haaretz] Peter Weber
Russian Sen. Mikhail Marchenko has had it with emoji depicting same-sex relationships. He alleged the same-sex parenting and kissing emojing violate Russia's 2013 law against gay propaganda, according to translations of a Russian newspaper report from Quartz and BBC News.
Mikhail reportedly said the emoji "promoted non-traditional sexual relationships" and "denied family values." His complaint prompted a state media investigation into the emoji that could lead to them being banned from social media in Russia. Pro-gay emoji have been available on iPhones since 2012.
The Russian law allows for blocking pro-gay websites and fining individuals and businesses that publicly support gay rights. Julie Kliegman
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Egyptian counterpart Sunday, marking the first time in six years the two nations have held strategic talks, Newsweek reports. Talks were suspended during the Middle East's Arab Spring uprising, where protests in Egypt forced the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.
"Egypt remains vital ... to engagement and stability in the region as a whole," Kerry said.
The U.S. has given Egypt eight F-16 fighter jets, and will continue providing more support for the Egyptian military as they fight insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula. Kerry also emphasized the U.S. would continue to press Cairo on human rights issues, like jailing journalists.
Kerry will travel to Qatar next for meetings about fighting ISIS and enforcing the Iran nuclear deal. Julie Kliegman
The head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force apologized Sunday for sharing false news Saturday of another notable lion's death, ABC News reports. The group initially reported that Jericho, a companion of Cecil, the lion who was reportedly shot and killed by an American dentist in early July, had also been killed.
"I have now discovered that he is alive and well," Johnny Rodrigues said. "The cubs are also doing well."
If Donald Trump becomes president, he might bring back waterboarding as an interrogation tactic, he said Sunday on ABC's This Week.
"When you see the other side chopping off heads, waterboarding doesn't sound very severe," he told Jonathan Karl.
Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have both issued bans on using enhanced interrogation tactics on detainees, most notably at Guantánamo Bay.
In his interview, Trump also criticized Obama for not doing enough for African-Americans during his presidency. And at Thursday's GOP primary debate, he said doesn't plan on attacking his opponents. Place your bets now on how many minutes that promise might last. Julie Kliegman
The White House released a video Saturday night previewing President Obama's Monday announcement of a proposal to limit carbon pollution released by the nation's power plants.
BREAKING: On Monday, President Obama will release the final version of America's Clean Power Plan—the biggest, most important step we've ever taken to combat climate change. If you agree that we can't condemn our kids and grandkids to a planet that's beyond fixing, share this video with your friends and family. It's time to #ActOnClimate.
Posted by The White House on Saturday, August 1, 2015
The regulations proposed, tougher than those in a previous draft, will require 32 percent decreases from 2005 levels of carbon emissions by 2030. And at least 28 percent of a plant's generating power must come from renewable energy sources, NPR reports.
"Climate change is not a problem for another generation," Obama said. "Not anymore." Julie Kliegman
Dr. Dre announced on his radio show Saturday he will release his first new album in 15 years, Rolling Stone reports. Compton: A Soundtrack, which he's releasing exclusively on iTunes and Apple Music Aug. 7, will feature artists including Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and the Game.
"I kept it under wraps, and now the album is finished," he said. "It's bananas. It's an 'inspired by' album. It's inspired by Straight Outta Compton."
Dre called the album his "grand finale." Julie Kliegman
Puerto Rico defaulted Saturday, missing a $58 million debt payment on Public Finance Corporation bonds. Victor Suarez, the governor's chief of staff, said Friday the island only has enough money to operate until November if nothing is done to increase cash flow, Reuters reports.
Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced in June that Puerto Rico would need restructuring on an unpayable $72 billion in debt. The White House has said the U.S. will not bail out the territory. Julie Kliegman