For the night of 6 March 2014
North Korea-South Korea: North Korea rejected the South's suggestion to hold working-level talks for developing a more permanent solution to the issue of separated families.
The Ministry of Unification announced today it had received a message bearing the name of the chairman of the Korean Red Cross Central Committee that stated, "Currently, an environment and atmosphere conducive for talks regarding family reunions between the North and South Red Cross delegations cannot be fostered."
"Considering inter-Korean relations, grave humanitarian issues like the regularization of reunions for separated families are not issues to be solved through the Red Cross. Let's tackle humanitarian issues in a humanitarian way," the message concluded.
Comment: The South's suggestion was a probe to determine the duration and extent of the North's reconciliation policy. It seems to be suspended for now, probably for the duration of Allied exercises. However, the second paragraph of the North's response appears to contain a counter-offer that invites development of a new channel for handling humanitarian issues, which appears to be similar to the South's original suggestion.
Pakistan: According to a Pakistani press service, former president Pervez Musharraf has submitted an application -- written in first person -- to the special court in which he requests and argues for permission to travel abroad for his own treatment as well as to attend to his ailing mother.
He argued he needed to work with his own cardiologist, instead of the military doctors. He noted his cardiologist lives in Texas. He promised to return to Pakistan whenever the court required his presence.
Musharraf also stated that his mother is 94 years old, residing in Dubai and she is suffering from a number of serious ailments. "She has been in and out of the hospital and is under constant medical supervision. I consider it imperative to see her and ensure that she is being properly looked after."
Comment: On the merits, Musharraf stated no grounds for the court to grant him leave to travel, especially because he is being tried for treason. His letter exudes confidence that he will beat the charge. Thus far, the court's handling of the case has minimized the danger of a popular, anti-Musharraf backlash and an army backlash against the government for trying in civil court one of its former leaders.
Russia-US: The Russian president's website posted the following summary of talks between the Russian and US presidents.
"Text of report in English by Russian presidential website on 6 March"
"A telephone conversation has taken place between Vladimir Putin and the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, on the initiative of the American side."
"It was proposed to discuss a critical situation developed in Ukraine. During the discussion the differences in approaches and assessments of the causes of today's crisis and the current state of affairs [in Ukraine] were brought to light."
"Vladimir Putin, in particular, noted that the current Ukrainian authorities, which came to power as a result of an anti-constitutional coup and which do not have a nationwide mandate, have been forcing their absolutely illegitimate decisions on eastern and southeastern regions and Crimea. Russia cannot ignore appeals for help addressed to it in this connection and is acting adequately and in full conformity with international law."
"The Russian president stressed a paramount importance of Russian-US relations in ensuring stability and security in the world. These relations should not be sacrificed to differences about certain international problems even if they are quite significant."
"The heads of the two states agreed that the heads of the foreign offices, Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry, will remain in intensive contact."
Comment: Putin succinctly restated the Russian position which has not changed since 22 February.
The fourth paragraph is condescending in that it minimizes the Ukraine crisis as a difference of opinion and presumes equal stature with the US in handling larger international issues. It comes close to asking why the US is so upset and to lecturing the US president on the issues about which he really should be concerned. Putin is way out of his league.
Crimea: Military. The Russian navy sank the mothballed Ochakov, an anti-submarine ship belonging to the Black Sea Fleet, at the entrance to Lake Donuzlav overnight 5 March, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
Comment: This action blocks the channel. It denies the Kyiv regime use of its ships and frees up Russian ships that had blockaded the port. News service reports said Russia had been using 10 ships to block the port, including the guided missile cruiser Moskva.
Crimea: Political. Crimea's lawmakers on Thursday unanimously voted to ask to be a part of Russia and set 16 March as the date for a popular referendum on secession.
The Crimean members of the regional parliament asked Russian President Vladimir Putin the allow them to "enter into the Russian Federation with the rights of a subject of the Russian Federation."
The referendum will contain two questions: whether Crimea should join Russia or whether it should remain part of Ukraine.
The city council of Sevastopol also voted in an emergency session to join Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation. Sevastopol is governed directly from Kyiv as a national city.
Comment: The referendum will not contain an obvious third choice - to become independent. One commentator suggested the reason for the omission is that most Crimeans would probably vote for independence.
Ukrainian reaction:: Ukrainian prime minister Yatsenyuk called the Crimean parliament's act "illegitimate."
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) press service reported that the SBU is charging Vladimir Konstantinov, chairman of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Supreme Council; and Sergey Aksenov, "self-proclaimed" head of the republic Council of Ministers, with committing actions aimed at violently changing or overthrowing the constitutional order or at seizing state power. These crimes come under Articles 27 and 109 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code, according to the press release.
Comment: Both sides continue to take actions that are difficult to reverse and which make the crisis more difficult to settle peaceably.
End of NightWatch for 6 March.
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