20/03/2014 World News Today


20/03/2014

The latest national and international news, exploring the day's events from a global perspective.


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This is BBC World News today with me, Zeinab Badawi. Tit-for-tat,

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President Obama announces further sanctions against Russia and Moscow

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retaliates and imposes sanctions on leading American politicians and

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officials. EU leaders tough and rhetoric over Crimea. Will they back

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the words with actions? Mr Obama says he will work with the. We have

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been working harder to introduce more severe actions if Russia

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escalates. Gunmen storm a hotel in Kabul.

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Australia says it is the best lead so far. Could these satellite images

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showed debris from the missing Malaysian airliner? Ships and planes

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are scouring the South Indian Ocean to find out.

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And Vera Lynn, the Forces' Sweetheart, is releasing a new album

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at the age of 97. Should she inspire us to rethink what we can do in

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older age? Hello and welcome. EU leaders are

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preparing for dinner tonight after a day of discussion on what action to

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take against Russia in the light of its decision to absorb Crimea.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel says EU leaders will agree new sanctions

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but the key issue is how extensive and deep they will be and whether

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they will take effect. In the US, President Obama has announced

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Washington is widening its travel ban and asset freeze on Russian

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officials. Russia has retaliated and imposed sanctions on leading

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officials including Senator John McCain.

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In Crimea Bay are issuing Russian passports as Moscow continues to

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tighten its grip on the breakaway Ukrainian republic. For EU leaders

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in Brussels the immediate issue is extending travel bans and asset

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freezes in response to the annexation. In longer term perhaps

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the total reevaluation of the relationship with Moscow. President

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Obama emerged with a new warning of more widespread sanctions if Russia

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escalates the situation further. I signed a new order today that gives

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of -- gives us the authority to impose sanctions not only on

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individuals but key sectors of the Russian economy. This is not our

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preferred outcome. These sanctions will not only have a significant

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impact on the Russian economy but also the global economy. The UN's

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top diplomat has been in Moscow for talks with, well, the man of the

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moment. During our meeting I have emphasised

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that all parties refrain from any hasty or provocative actions that

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could further exacerbate already very tense and volatile situations.

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But no hint of a shift in Moscow's position. The lower house of their

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parliament has formally annexed Crimea and they have announced

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sanctions against US politicians. Our policy to protect our

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compatriots remains unchanged. We will defend their issues by legal

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diplomatic and means. It still looks like a new deep freeze in Russian

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relations with the West. European Union leaders are meeting

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in Brussels to discuss the situation and possible further sanctions. For

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the latest we are joined by Iain Watson. Give us an idea of the kind

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of mood there. Is it hardening against Russia, is there cohesion,

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Unity? I think it is a pragmatic mood overall. Here the temperature

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is dropping but it has not dropped as far as it has in the US. A range

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of things were discussed, including making it very difficult for the

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annexed Crimea to export to the European Union, they have looked at

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extending the list of 21 Russians and Ukrainians associated with the

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former regime, travel bans and asset freezes. What a also want to do is

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draw up a list of further sanctions to be imposed if Russia goes any

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further. That is what they have been talking about this afternoon but

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when the you leaders have dinner in the next few minutes things will

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become more difficult to get a complete consensus. -- the European

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Union leaders. The Tory consensus is that there must be consequences for

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Russia, but other countries operate dependent on Russian energy

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supplies. I don't think we will see anything like the same scale of

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sanctions that the Americans are imposing. One thing I have been told

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is that there will be no talk of sanctions against Russian financial

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institutions. America has made sanctions against at least one

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Russian financial institution will stop picking up on what he was

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saying, let me bring you the numbers.

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You will see that the Europeans have much closer trade on energy and

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financial ties with the Russians compared with the Americans. Last

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year the trading of goods between Russia and the European union

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totalled almost US$450 billion. The Russian total was less than $40

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million. Ian Bond is with the Centre for European Reform but he is a

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former British ambassador to Latvia, which was part of the Soviet

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Union, and is now part of the European Union. Picking up on what

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Ian said, the fact is that the bottom line for the European Union

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is that we want to say Russia did something wrong as long as we do not

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hurt ourselves. If we stick to that it makes it very difficult. We need

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to be compared to accept some pain if we are going to send an effective

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signal. It is a bit misleading to talk in terms of the amount of

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trade, when what the Americans are doing at the moment is targeting

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leading members of President Putin's circle rather than looking

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at a broad scope of trade sanctions. But the fact is, the figures show

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just how far the ties do go, and therefore that may be a constraint

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on actions. Does that in your views say that the European Union actions

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against Russia are pathetic and toothless, as Malcolm Rifkind said?

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-- your view. I think he was right. The figures sound impressive but the

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European Union trade with Russia is less than with Switzerland. Do you

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see the European Union and the US, Obama saying we want to act

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together, slightly going at a different speed at the moment? Yes,

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the Americans have been much more willing to target people close to

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President Putin. They had a shorter list in their first package but at

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least three people had desks in the Kremlin. Including the Deputy Prime

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Minister. Yes, and this list is focused on people who are close

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either personally, financially or politically to President Putin. The

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European Union list was really 21 people that Putin would probably

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barely recognise in the street. Do you think that we will look at this

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crisis over the Crimea and say that this is a

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