Putin withdraws request to use force in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin asked parliament June 24 to cancel a resolution sanctioning the use of military force in Ukraine, a move his Ukrainian counterpart heralded as a practical stepî toward bringing peace to a region roiled by a separatist insurgency.
Putin’s announcement came after pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine said June 23 they would respect a cease-fire declared by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, raising hopes for an end to months of fighting that have killed hundreds and driven thousands from their homes.
A statement on the Kremlin website announced that Putin had asked the head of Russia’s upper house of parliament to cancel his March 1 request authorizing the use of force on Ukrainian territory. The pliant chamber is expected to quickly rubber-stamp the move Wednesday.
Putin needs to show his support for Poroshenko’s peace plan ahead of the European Union’ summit June 27 to avoid further Western sanctions. At the same time, he may feel that he no longer needs to maintain the threat of an invasion to protect Moscow’s interests in Ukraine.
Poroshenko’s peace plan contains promises of decentralization and guarantees for protection of rights of Russian speakers, which Russia has demanded from the start of the crisis. AP
Fighter jet catches fire on Panhandle base runway
Military officials are investigating how an F-35 fighter jet caught fire during takeoff from an Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., runway.
Officials say the jet – estimated to cost around $98 million – caught fire June 23.
No one was hurt, and firefighters were able to put out the fire with suppressing foam.
The pilot was able to shut down the engine and get out of the plane after noticing the fire.
Officials say the extent of damage to the plane is still being assessed, but the damage appears to be significant.
The Daily News reports that the Air Force has suspended flights for its 26 F-35s at the base during the investigation into the cause of the fire. AP
U.S. special forces face complex challenge in Iraq
Teams of U.S. special forces going into Iraq will face an aggressive insurgency, a splintering military and a precarious political situation as they help Iraqi security forces improve their ability to battle Sunni militants.
The Army Green Berets, who are expected to make up much of the U.S. force, have been assessing and training other militaries for decades. But while their new work in Iraq will be familiar, it will be complicated by the stunning collapse of Iraq’s military, left leaderless by internal Sunni-Shiite divisions.
Experts suggest that while the elite commandos may be able to stop the immediate deterioration of Iraqi forces, it will require a far broader effort to quell the deep sectarian divide in the country and put systems in place to build more professional military leadership. AP
Philippine leader backs larger Japan military role
The leader of the Philippines June 24 endorsed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ongoing push to expand Japan’s military role.
President Benigno Aquino III, after meeting with Abe, expressed his support for Abe’s proposal to reinterpret Japan’s pacifist constitution to allow its military to defend not only Japan but also allies that come under attack.
We believe that nations of goodwill can only benefit if the Japanese government is empowered to assist others and is allowed the wherewithal to come to the aid of those in need, especially in the area of collective self-defense,î he told reporters at a joint news conference.
Aquino’s support comes as Japan and the Philippines deepen security ties in the face of China’s military expansion and territorial disputes both they and other Asian nations have with China in the South and East China seas. AP