World View: Russia's Crimea Annexation Brings Entire European Union into Question

This morning's key headlines from

  • Russia's Crimea annexation brings entire European Union into question
  • France kills 40 Islamists in Mali in recent operations
  • 59 people die of Ebola virus in Guinea

Russia's Crimea annexation brings entire European Union into question

Russia supporters celebrate in Simferopol, Crimea, on Friday (Reuters)
Russia supporters celebrate in Simferopol, Crimea, on Friday (Reuters)

Russian troops consolidated their control of Crimea by smashing their way into the remaining Ukrainian military bases in Crimea with armored vehicles, automatic fire and stun grenades and taking them over. Russian troops sang Russian songs, while Ukrainian troops changed, "Long live Ukraine!"

Although Saturday's actions were mostly bloodless, with few casualties, Western officials fear further possible Russian plans to invade eastern Ukraine, and cause an incident that triggers a real military confrontation and a wider war.

Russia's annexation of Crimea is not a trivial matter for the Europeans. There is a growing sense in Europe that the entire European Union project is in jeopardy. The European Union was formed with the specific purpose of providing a political and legal infrastructure that would prevent a repeat of the two world wars that had ravaged the continent. The Europeans have been building this infrastructure for 60 years, with courts and parliaments and treaties and constitutions and banks and even a new currency. But the ease with which Russia could annex another country's territory with impunity, or that China could do the same thing in the South China Sea, makes it clear to everyone that, in the end, that infrastructure prevents nothing. And if that infrastructure prevents nothing, then what's the purpose of the European Union, except a temporary romantic convenience? Irish Times and Telegraph (London)

France kills 40 Islamists in Mali in recent operations

France's defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday that operations by French soldiers in Mali have killed about 40 Islamist militants in the last few weeks, including a senior commander.

When France's president François Hollande announced in January of last year that he was sending French peacekeeping troops into Mali to prevent a takeover of the entire country by al-Qaeda linked Islamists, he expected to withdraw them by March -- of last year. Then the withdrawal date was postponed to August, then to December, and then to March of this year.

According to Le Drian, the fight against militants in Mali "is far from finished." The military action in Mali has already gone on far longer than anyone expected, and has been far more expensive, and apparently there's no end in sight. Expatica France and Al Jazeera

59 people die of Ebola virus in Guinea

Experts in the west African nation Guinea had been unable to identify the disease that's killed 59 people in the last six weeks, but on Saturday it was finally identified as the Ebola virus by scientists studying samples in Lyon, France. The disease kills 25-90% of those who fall sick. It's extremely contagious, but is transmitted by direct contact with blood, feces or sweat, or by sexual contact or unprotected handling of contaminated corpses. Ebola is not transmitted through the air, so it's unlikely to cause a widespread pandemic if the public takes reasonable precautions. According to French officials, anyone who has to travel to southern Guinea should "strictly respect the hygiene rules, not consume the meat of animals killed by hunting and stay away from areas of high density of population like markets and football grounds." AFP and Reuters

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