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The Associated Press says President Barack Obama is pressing China's to support the U.S. plan to isolate Russia over its military intervention in Ukraine. The AP reports, "With official comments from China appearing studiously neutral since the Ukraine crisis began, President Barack Obama spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping late Sunday in a bid to get Beijing off the fence."
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had his first conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh. Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby says Hagel reaffirmed U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.. He said the goal was to keep dialogue between to two militaries as strong as possible well into the future.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. was stepping up joint aviation training with Polish forces. The Pentagon also is increasing American participation in NATO's air policing mission in its Baltic countries, he said. This and U.S. diplomatic efforts have come about since Russia's incursion into Ukraine
As if what's going on in Ukraine weren't enough, the Russian military on Tuesday test-fired a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile. The missile, fired from a launch pad in southern Russia, hit a designated target on a range leased by Russia from Kazakhstan. The National Security Council says, "This was a previously notified and routine test launch of an ICBM. As required under the New START Treaty, Russia provided advance notification of this launch to the United States. Such advance notifications are intended to provide transparency, confidence, and predictability and to help both sides avoid misunderstandings. Russia and the United States routinely flight test their ICBMs and SLBMs."
North Korea launched several Scud missiles on Monday. The United States says they are a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the North launched two such short-range ballistic missiles from its southeast coast Monday morning that landed in the sea. It is the second reported launch of short-range missiles by North Korea in less than a week.
A second member of the ``Cuban Five'' has returned to the Caribbean island and a hero's welcome after leaving a prison in the United States. 50 year old Fernando Gonzalez and four others were arrested in 1998 and convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the U.S. Gonzalez spent 15 years in prison.
NATO says it's going to plan for all options for its future presence in Afghanistan, including a possible pullout of all its troops this year. NATO Head Anders Fogh Rasmussen says NATO was planning to keep a slimmed-down force in Afghanistan after 2014, but President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign a security agreement with the United States could force it to pull out all its troops by the end of the year.
Portraying a difficult future for Afghanistan without U.S. help, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey says that Afghanistan's refusal to sign a security agreement with the United States could make the war more difficult and inspire the enemy and encourage some Afghan security forces to cooperate with the Taliban to as he put it, ``hedge their bets.'' Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a SOFA with the U.S.
A review of Afghanistan's future indicates the country could revert to a terrorist hideout unless U.S. and international partners put in place a larger Afghan security force than what's planned for 2014.The study released Thursday by federally funded CNA Strategic Studies also concludes that this larger force and the government ministries to support it will require international trainers and advisers at least through 2018.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to the Associated Press, "has put himself in charge of a new body to coordinate cyber security, in a sign of Beijing's concern over its vulnerability to online attacks and its desire to retain tight control over the Internet." AP says Chinese state media reports the central Internet security and information leading group will draft policy for boosting the country's defenses, as well as expanding and improving Internet access.