US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty


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"Trump Says Ready To Join Normandy Talks On East Ukraine Conflict"

US-Präsident Trump hat sich grundsätzlich dazu bereit erklärt, an den Verhandlungen des sogenannten Normandie-Quartetts zur Lösung des Konflikts in der Ostukraine teilzunehmen. "U.S. President Donald Trump has said he isn't averse to joining talks with Germany, France, Ukraine, and Russia aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Known as the Normandy format, Trump told Voice of America on September 9 in Washington that he'd join the talks if the participants needed him. 'I believe the fact that the exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine took place…is a very big step, and a very positive step. If they need me to join, I would join [the Normandy format],' Trump said. France, Germany, and Ukraine have called for talks to take place by the end of this month. Russia has said it is ready to meet once 'concrete steps' are taken before the meeting. The last round of Normandy talks took place in 2016."

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"Why Did Trump Call Off The Taliban Talks: A Negotiating Tactic, Washington Worries About The Deal, Or Showmanship?"

Einige Experten glauben, dass der plötzliche Abbruch der US-Gespräche mit den Taliban Teil der amerikanischen Verhandlungstaktik sei. "U.S.-Taliban talks are likely to resume at some point because many say there is no military solution to the conflict as no side is able to break the current military stalemate in its favor. Pompeo said Washington is still interested in agreeing to a deal, while the Taliban said it was hopeful negotiations could resume. Analysts said Trump’s abrupt end to talks could be a negotiating tactic to get more concessions from the Taliban. Jonathan Schroden, a security expert at CNA, a U.S.-based nonprofit research and analysis organization, said it would be 'typical Trump brinksmanship to angle for a better deal.' (...) 'If U.S. negotiations resume with the Taliban, the U.S. will certainly want to pursue a deal that obliges the insurgents to lay down arms before any U.S. troops leave the country,' said [Michael Kugelman, South Asia associate at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington]. 'The question will be what the U.S. does to give the Taliban an incentive to agree to such a concession.'"

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"Putin, Macron Say Ukraine-Russia Prisoner Swap Gives Momentum For Peace Talks"

Die Präsidenten Macron und Putin wollen den erfolgreich absolvierten Gefangenenaustausch Russlands mit der Ukraine als Impuls für neue Verhandlungen zur Lösung des Konflikts in der Ostukraine nutzen. "Russia and Ukraine exchanged a total of 70 prisoners on September 7 in a move praised by the West as an opportunity to improve tense relations between Kyiv and Moscow. 'The two presidents confirmed that the current momentum will allow for the holding, in the next few weeks, of a summit under the Normandy format in Paris,' the French presidency said in a statement. The Kremlin added: 'The sides discussed prospects for the resolution of the Ukrainian conflict and stressed that the Minsk Package of Measures has no alternatives as a basis for the conflict settlement. They reiterated mutual commitment to continue constructive joint work within the Normandy format.'"

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"Putin: Russia To Produce Previously Banned Missiles, Deploy Them Only If U.S. Does"

Präsident Putin hat angekündigt, dass Russland nach dem Ende des INF-Vertrags die Produktion bisher verbotener Mittelstreckenraketen plane. Ob diese Raketen tatsächlich stationiert werden, hänge von den USA ab. "'We will make such missiles, of course, but we will not deploy them in the regions where no ground-based missile systems of this class manufactured by the United States have emerged,' he added. After accusing Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty for years, the United Sates officially withdrew on August 2 from the pact banning ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. (...) Putin said in Vladivostok that he was concerned by comments from Washington concerning the deployment of missiles in Japan and South Korea since those sites are close enough to strike Russian territory."

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"Taliban Attack Shakes Kabul, Killing 16 As Peace Deal Reached ‘In Principle'"

Parallel zur Verkündung einer prinzipiellen Einigung in den Friedensverhandlungen der USA mit den Taliban sind in Kabul erneut zahlreiche Menschen bei einem Anschlag getötet und verletzt worden. "The Taliban took credit for killing at least 16 civilians involving a car bombing and gunmen in Kabul on September 2 as the Afghan-based militant group agreed 'in principle' to a deal to end the nearly 18-year conflict, the longest war in which the United States has been embroiled. (...) In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL, [U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad] said the Taliban has agreed 'in principle' that any Afghan territory it controls in the future will not be used as a sanctuary for terrorists to launch attacks against the United States and its allies. He also said that U.S. and Taliban negotiators had also agreed on the gradual 'reduction and withdrawal' of Western forces from Afghanistan. 'That would depend on the situation on the ground,' the envoy said. However, he pointed out that the agreement, reached after nine rounds of U.S.-Taliban negotiations in Qatar, wasn't final until U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to it."

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"Taliban Launch Second Attack On Afghan City Despite Peace Talks"

Die Taliban haben in den vergangenen Tagen Großoffensiven gegen die strategisch wichtigen Städte Kundus und Puli Khumri im Norden Afghanistans gestartet. "Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said militants had taken up positions in two areas of Puli Khumri and were battling Afghan security forces. 'The whole city is closed,' Safdar Muhsini, head of the Baghlan provincial council, said. 'If the central government does not take quick action, the situation could get worse.' Shortly before that announcement, U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had written on Twitter that U.S. and Taliban negotiators were closing in on a deal as they concluded their eighth round of talks in Qatar."

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"Trump Says Russia Belongs, Wants To Make It The G8 Again"

US-Präsident Trump hat sich dafür ausgesprochen, Russland wieder in den Kreis der derzeitigen G7-Staaten aufzunehmen. "His remarks came before a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on August 20 in Washington and four days before he arrives at this year’s G7 summit in the southern French resort town of Biarritz. 'I could certainly' support that, he told reporters at the White House. 'It’s much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G8, because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia.' Trump said 'if somebody would make that motion, I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favorably,' regarding the inclusion of Russia in the group."

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"Trump Wants All Troops Out Of Afghanistan By 2020 U.S. Election: Reports"

US-Präsident Trump strebt Berichten zufolge an, die US-Truppen in Afghanistan noch vor den Wahlen im kommenden Jahr abzuziehen. "U.S. President Donald Trump has told aides that he wants to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan before the presidential election in November 2020, U.S. news agencies are reporting, citing unnamed current and former administration officials. The latest reports on August 2 come after U.S. media cited unnamed sources as saying the United States is ready to withdraw a large number of troops from Afghanistan in exchange for Taliban guarantees to start direct negotiations with Kabul on ending the nearly 18-year war. The Washington Post and CNN cited sources as saying that the number of soldiers would go down from 14,000 to 8,000-9,000 as part of a peace deal to end the conflict. Washington has said it wants a peace deal finalized with the Taliban by September 1."

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"Trump Balks At Cancellation Of F-35 Jet Sales To Turkey, Blames Obama"

US-Präsident Trump hat bestätigt, dass die USA der Türkei aufgrund der begonnenen Lieferung russischer S-400-Raketenabwehrsysteme keine F-35-Kampfflugzeuge verkaufen werden. Zugleich hat Trump seinen Amtsvorgänger Obama für die Spannungen verantwortlich gemacht. "Speaking to journalists before a cabinet meeting on July 16, Trump didn't mention sanctions that are legally required to be enforced after Turkey started purchasing the Russian hardware. Trump instead said it was 'not fair' that Washington cancelled the sale of over 100 planes to Turkey while implying that his predecessor, Barack Obama, was to blame because the United States failed to sell it Patriot missiles instead. (...) At his Senate confirmation hearing to become defense secretary, Army Secretary Mark Esper said that Turkey 'cannot have both' the Russian and U.S. equipment, because the S-400 'fundamentally undermines the capabilities of the F-35.' Former State Department and national security official Andrew Weiss said that Trump's position 'undercuts his own team.'"

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"EU Countries Meeting To Reduce Tensions With Iran"

Der iranische Präsident Rohani hat sich grundsätzlich zu Verhandlungen mit den USA bereit erklärt, dies aber zugleich von der Aufhebung der US-Sanktionen abhängig gemacht. "President Hassan Rohani said in a televised speech on July 14 that Tehran will be ready to talk with the Trump administration when it stops its 'sanctions and bullying.' However, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed Rohani's proposal, telling The Washington Post it was 'the same offer that he offered to John F. Kerry and Barack Obama,' referring to the former U.S. secretary of state and president."

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"Merkel Seeks To Reassure Western Balkans On EU, Stresses ‘Strategic Interest’"

Bundeskanzlerin Merkel hat den Westbalkan-Ländern auf einem Gipfeltreffen im polnischen Poznan versichert, dass die EU trotz der Verschiebung der Aufnahme von Beitrittsverhandlungen weiterhin ein "strategisches Interesse" an ihrer EU-Mitgliedschaft habe. "Merkel told a Western Balkan summit in Poznan, Poland, on July 5 that concerns expressed by French President Emmanuel Macron that the countries’ governance mechanisms become more efficient should not delay accession talks. 'I share President Macron's view that the EU's working mechanisms must be improved,' she said. 'I don't see that as an abandonment of the accession talks.' She added that the accession process for Balkan nations aspiring for membership -- Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and North Macedonia -- was sufficiently lengthy to allow time for improvements to be made. (...) Last month, EU member states postponed a decision on whether to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania until October, amid resistance from some bloc members, including France and the Netherlands."

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"Pompeo Meets With Saudi Leaders For Iran Crisis Talks"

US-Außenminister Pompeo wünscht sich eine "globale Koalition" williger Verbündeter im Nahen Osten, Europa und Asien, die sich dem Iran als "größten staatlichen Sponsor von Terrorismus" entgegenstellen soll. "Pompeo told reporters on June 23 before leaving Washington: 'We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states but in Asia and in Europe prepared to push back against the world's largest state sponsor of terror.' Pompeo also echoed President Donald Trump in saying Washington was prepared to negotiate with Tehran, without preconditions, in a bid to ease tensions between the longtime foes."

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"HRW Warns Of Risks Of Bosnian Plan To Relocate Refugees In Tent Camp"

Die Regierung in Bosnien-Herzegowina plant die Verlegung hunderter Migranten aus der Stadt Bihac in eine nahegelegene Zeltstadt. "According to, a website that analyzes population flows, 7,127 migrants were registered as entering Bosnia in 2019 up to May 15, more than 6 times the total for all of 2017. In 2018, 23,848 were registered, the highest single-year total ever for the country. Most migrants in Bosnia are concentrated in two northwestern towns, Bihac and Velika Kladusa, close to the 1,000-kilometer-long border with Croatia, a member of the European Union. Human Rights Watch researcher Lydia Gall told RFE/RL that Bosnian authorities need to ensure there is adequate accommodation space for all migrants and asylum seekers in the country, one of Europe's poorest."

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"Next Up For U.S. Weapons Supplies To Ukraine? Possibly Surface-To-Air Missiles"

Nachdem die US-Regierung im vergangenen Jahr die Lieferung von Javelin-Panzerabwehr-Raketen in die Ukraine genehmigt hat, denken US-Politiker nun offen über den Verkauf von Boden-Luft-Raketen an Kiew nach. "Any final decision would have to go through multiple approval processes at various U.S. agencies, including the U.S. Defense Department. Moreover, targets for Ukrainian surface-to-air missiles are limited for now: Russia-backed separatists don’t have fighter jets, and Russia sending its own aircraft over Ukraine would undermine its assertions that it is not involved in the conflict. Still, the move sends a clear message to the Kremlin of where Congress stands regarding the war in Ukraine. And, according to Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, it's a logical next step after the U.S. decision to supply Javelins to the Ukrainian armed forces. 'I don't see this as generating more problems than the arrival of the Javelins did,' Pifer, now a research fellow at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, told RFE/RL. 'We're not talking about providing the Ukrainians with F-35 fighters or M-1 tanks.'"

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"Putin Says Russia Prepared To Drop Arms Control Treaty If U.S. Not Interested In Renewal"

Präsident Putin hat erklärt, dass Russland angesichts des amerikanischen Zögerns bei der Verlängerung des "New START"-Abkommens gezwungen sein könnte, auch diesen Rüstungskontrollvertrag aufzugeben. "At a meeting with the heads of international news agencies in St. Petersburg, Putin said Washington is reluctant to begin talks on extending the deal, which is due to expire in 2021. 'We do not have to extend it. Our systems can guarantee Russia's security for quite a long period of time,' Putin said. 'If no one feels like extending the New START agreement, well, we won't do it then,' the Russian president said. The pact, signed in Prague in 2010, provided for limiting to 1,550 the number of strategic nuclear warheads deployed by either country -- down almost two-thirds from the 6,000-warheads limit in the original START I treaty which entered into force in 1994 and expired in 2009. 'Everything ends in 2021,' Putin said. 'There will be no instruments left to curb the arms race.'"

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"Zelenskiy Calls For Referendum On Ukraine's NATO Membership"

Der ukrainische Präsident Zelenskiy hat sich für ein Referendum zum Nato-Beitritt des Landes ausgesprochen. "Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said Ukraine should hold a referendum on NATO membership, adding that the country is on a 'course toward Europe.' He made the comments during an interview conducted at a gym in Brussels on June 5 with RFE/RL correspondent Gregory Zhygalov, which also aired on Ukrainian channel 1+1. Zelenskiy also commented on his decision to reinstate former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's Ukrainian citizenship after it was annulled by former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko."

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"UN Maritime Tribunal Rules Russia Must Release Ukrainian Sailors, Ships"

Der Internationale Seegerichtshof der Vereinten Nationen hat beschlossen, dass Russland die im November im Schwarzen Meer festgenommenen 24 ukrainischen Matrosen freilassen und die beschlagnahmten Schiffe an Kiew übergeben müsse. "The tribunal's decisions are legally binding, but it has no power to enforce them. The tribunal called for both Russia and Ukraine to report back on their compliance by June 25. Correspondents say the ruling is unlikely to definitively end the question of allowing Ukrainian ships full access to the Sea of Azov, which Russia has been restricting since a bridge across the Kerch Strait was completed. But Ukraine is hoping the victory will provide legal weight in its fight against Russia, which has boycotted the proceedings, saying the court has no jurisdiction. Ukraine has denied Russia's charge that the Ukrainian ships had entered Russian territorial waters illegally."

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"HRW: 'Mass Surveillance App' Used To Target Muslims In China's Xinjiang"

Die Organisation Human Rights Watch wirft der chinesischen Regierung vor, Angehörige der muslimischen Uiguren-Minderheit in der Provinz Xinjiang mit einer neuen App systematisch zu überwachen. "The New York-based watchdog said on May 2 that the mobile app is being used to 'collect a wide array of information from ordinary people in Xinjiang,' ranging from their blood type and height to their 'religious atmosphere' and political affiliation. The tool monitors people’s movements by tracing their phones, vehicles, and ID cards, and notes 'suspicious' behavior like whether an individual fails to socialize with their neighbors or uses an 'unusual' amount of electricity, according to HRW. Police in Xinjiang 'are using illegally gathered information about people's completely lawful behavior and using it against them,' said Maya Wang, HRW's senior researcher on China."

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"Venezuela Convulses And Russia Frets: What Does Moscow Stand To Lose If The Maduro Government Falls?"

Mike Eckel erläutert die Hintergründe der russischen Unterstützung für Venezuelas Präsident Maduro und verweist dabei neben wirtschaftlichen Interessen auch darauf, dass ein Sturz Maduros Moskaus Reputation beschädigen würde. "Russia and its state-owned oil giant Rosneft have invested heavily in the Venezuela's PDVSA and Venezuelan oil projects -- about $9 billion since 2010, according to Reuters. (...) 'Russia is now so deeply invested in the Maduro regime that the only realistic option is to double down,' [Alexander Gabuev of the Carnegie Moscow Center] wrote. (...) According to the Russian news agency TASS, Caracas purchased around $11 billion in armaments between 2005 and 2013. (...) It's unclear how much money Caracas still owes Russia for the weaponry. But the turmoil and any possible change in government throws in doubt whether Moscow will be paid for past deliveries, not to mention ongoing service contracts or future purchases. (...) Venezuela is a major importer of Russian grain and it is a key market for Moscow as it expands its farming exports and cuts into the market share of the United States, Brazil, and other agricultural powerhouses. (...) The Russian presence in Venezuela is a way of projecting power, with echoes of the Soviet presence in Cuba, and building relationships in Central America. It's also a way to bother the United States, which has long considered the Western Hemisphere part of its natural sphere of influence."

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"Kosovo's Leader: EU Is 'Weak,' U.S. Needed For Talks With Serbia"

Nach Ansicht des Präsidenten der Republik Kosovo ist die EU "zu schwach", um den Konflikt seines Landes mit Serbien beizulegen. Nach dem Treffen mit Bundeskanzlerin Merkel, Präsident Macron und anderen europäischen Führungspersönlichkeiten in Berlin hat sich Hashim Thaci deshalb für eine Einbeziehung der USA ausgesprochen. "Thaci said after a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Berlin that 'the European Union is too weak and disunited to move things forward in the Western Balkans.' He added that 'no talks or agreement are possible without the participation of the United States of America.' Thaci, who is in the German capital for talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Mogherini, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron, also met with U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell."

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"Afghan Civilian Casualties Down; Coalition Forces Killed More Than Taliban"

Einem neuen UN-Bericht zufolge haben das US-Militär und afghanische Regierungstruppen in einer seit 2009 regelmäßig erfassten Dreimonatsperiode zum ersten Mal mehr Zivilisten getötet als die Taliban und andere Aufständische. Insgesamt sei die Zahl der Opfer zugleich um fast 25 Prozent gesunken. "The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) noted that civilian casualties from the war in Afghanistan fell by almost 25 percent during the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier – with a total of 581 civilians killed and 1,192 wounded. When the number of civilians killed and wounded were combined, the UNAMA report says attacks by Taliban and other militants still caused more casualties than pro-government forces."

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"'An Electoral Maidan': Hope And Change, Ukrainian-Style, Vaults Zelenskiy Into Presidency"

Der Herausforderer Volodymyr Zelenskiy hat Amtsinhaber Poroschenko bei der Stichwahl zur ukrainischen Präsidentschaft überraschend deutlich geschlagen. Einige Experten erinnert das Ergebnis an den Euromaidan von 2014. "'The absolute majority of Ukrainians again, just as they did five years ago, want radical political change. In that sense, this was a kind of Maidan -- but an electoral one,' Ukrainian political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko told RFE/RL, referring to the central Kyiv square at the heart of the 2013-14 protests that helped oust Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych and paved the way for Poroshenko’s election. (...) [Zelenskiy] said that his top priority as president would be to secure from Russia the release of all Ukrainian prisoners of war and other prisoners and pledged to 'reboot' the Minsk process for resolving the conflict in parts of eastern Ukraine. 'Our first task is the liberation of our prisoners,' he said. 'I will do everything to get our boys home. All our prisoners, without exception.'"

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"Serbia, Kosovo Mark Anniversary Of NATO Bombings, But View It Very Differently"

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty berichtet, wie unterschiedlich Serbien und Kosovo sich an den 20. Jahrestag des NATO-Luftkriegs von 1999 erinnern. "Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic blasted NATO’s 1999 bombing campaign of his country, claiming it was 'a crime' that led to the deaths of 2,500 civilians and billions of dollars in damage. However, neighboring Kosovo, which was the beneficiary of the attack, on March 24 said it will 'forever be grateful' to the Western military alliance and the United States for intervening to help stop the bloodshed in the region. Serbia and Kosovo were both marking the 20th anniversary of NATO’s 78-day air campaign in what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The onslaught began on March 24, 1999, and helped end Belgrade's crackdown against ethnic Albanians in its then-province Kosovo."

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"Pentagon Planning To Test Long-Banned Missiles After INF Pullout"

Das Pentagon plant, in diesem Sommer eine neue Mittelstreckenrakete zu testen, deren Typ bislang vom INF-Vertrag verboten war. "'We're going to test a ground-launched cruise missile in August,' a senior defense official, who declined to be named, was quoted by Reuters as saying on March 13. Pentagon officials spoke to a small group of reporters on the condition that they would not be identified. The United States on February 2 launched the six-month process of leaving the INF Treaty after Washington and NATO repeatedly accused Moscow of violating the accord by developing the 9M729 cruise missile, also known as the SSC-8. (...) The U.S. cruise missile to be tested in August will have a range of 1,000 kilometers, Reuters quoted a Pentagon official as saying. If the test proves successful, the missile could be deployed in about 18 months, the official said."

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"After The Caliphate: To Repatriate Or Not To Repatriate?"

Europäische Regierungen gehen Ron Synovitz zufolge unterschiedlich mit der Frage um, wie mit aus Europa stammenden Anhängern des "Islamischen Staates" umgegangen werden sollte, die nach dem Kollaps des IS-Kalifats in Syrien und Irak festsitzen. "Trump specifically called upon 'Britain, France, Germany, and other European allies' to 'step up and do the job' to ensure that captured IS extremists face trial in their countries of origin. 'The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them,' Trump tweeted. But in the two weeks since Trump tweeted those remarks, many EU countries have said that captured IS fighters and their family members should be prosecuted where their alleged crimes occurred. That means mostly in Syria or Iraq. The European Commission says more than 42,000 foreign fighters joined terrorist organizations from 2011 to 2016 -- mostly the so-called Islamic State. It says about 5,000 were thought to be from Europe. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has ruled out any EU role in the repatriation dispute. She says the issue is one to be decided by national governments.“

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"White House Now Says 400 'Peacekeepers' To Remain In Syria, Up From 200"

Das Weiße Haus hat angekündigt, dass 400 US-Soldaten nach einem Abzug des US-Militärs aus Syrien als "Friedenstruppe" vor Ort bleiben sollen. "A White House official on February 22 confirmed the revised number and said they will be based as part of the Tanf garrison in northeastern Syria. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on February 21 had said that a 'peacekeeping' group of about 200 troops would remain in Syria for a 'period of time.' There was no immediate explanation for the revised figure of troops. The U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) hailed the U.S. decision to keep military personnel in northern Syria as a 'positive' sign, saying it might encourage other members of the U.S.-led coalition to maintain forces in the country."

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"UN Official Says Peace Negotiations For Ukraine Have 'Lost Momentum'"

Die laufenden Verhandlungen zur Lösung des Ukraine-Konflikts sind dem stellvertretenden UN-Generalsekretär Miroslav Jenca zufolge ins Stocken geraten, da beide Seiten in wichtigen Fragen nicht zu Kompromissen bereit seien. "A top UN official said the negotiations aimed at implementing the 2015 Minsk accords and ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine have lost momentum. Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenca made the comment in a speech before the UN Security Council on February 12, at an event marking the fourth anniversary of the accords. Jenca said negotiations 'appear to have lost momentum' and that neither Russia nor Ukraine appear to be willing to agree on key steps forward. The conflict, which erupted in 2014 at around the same time that Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula, has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced more than 1 million.“

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"NATO To Sign Accession Pact With Macedonia, Paving Way For Membership"

Die NATO hat nach der Einigung im Namensstreit zwischen Mazedonien und Griechenland einen Beitrittspakt mit Mazedonien unterschrieben. "Macedonia has said it expects Greece to be the first NATO member to ratify the accession protocol, after which the country will begin to call itself by its new, agreed-upon name. Macedonia and Greece approved an agreement under which Macedonia agreed to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia. Since 1991, Greece has objected to the name 'Macedonia' because it has a northern province with that name. The name change deal, dubbed the Prespa agreement after the border lake where it was signed last year, ends a 27-year dispute between the two neighbors. A NATO official told AFP that after the signing of the accession protocol, 'the accession process then moves to the capitals of the 29 allies, where the protocol will be ratified according to national procedures.' 'Once that process is completed,' the official said, 'the country will become a full member.'"

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"Interview: Russia's Ties To Venezuela Give It 'Nuisance Power' Over The U.S."

Der Lateinamerikaexperte Mikael Wigell vom Finnish Institute of International Affairs erklärt in diesem Interview, dass Russland mit der Unterstützung von Präsident Maduro in Venezuela neben der Vertretung handfester ökonomischer Interessen vor allem versuche, ein regionales "Ärgernis" für die USA zu schaffen. "(...) Moscow's interest in Venezuela is driven by its quite tense relations with the United States and it wants to [provide a counterbalance to] the United States. Establishing close relations with Venezuela gives Moscow a certain nuisance power in relation to the United States, and that can be used as a bargaining chip in future dealings with the United States. It also can be kind of a showcase for Russia's aspirations to be considered a global power. But Russia also has certain economic interests in Venezuela which have to do with its arms sales. Venezuela is a big purchaser of Russian arms, and Russia has also gained very favorable assets and contracts in Venezuela's oil-and-gas sector."

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"Under Moscow Pressure, Could Belarus's Balancing Act Come Crashing Down?"

Robert Coalson berichtet, dass die jüngsten diplomatischen Aktivitäten zwischen Russland und Weißrussland Spekulationen über eine bevorstehende Wiedervereinigung beider Länder ausgelöst hätten. "However, many analysts see the current activity as part of a larger pattern spanning the two countries' entire post-Soviet history, in which Lukashenka deftly offers or withholds his support for Moscow in complex bargaining for the Russian economic subsidies on which his country relies. Kenneth Yalowitz, a fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington who served as U.S. ambassador to Belarus in the 1990s, told RFE/RL that Lukashenka's appetite for merger is at a low ebb since Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and Moscow's involvement in the military conflict in eastern Ukraine. At the same time, he noted, Russia's economy is groaning under the strain of Western sanctions and other priority projects for Putin, leaving Moscow unable to bear the cost of absorbing Belarus's basket-case economy. (...) in Russia the prospect of taking on the Belarus economic project would likely not be greeted as enthusiastically as the annexation of Crimea was by a population that has seen significant tax hikes and a painful increase in retirement ages in the last few months."

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