Daily Digest: Russia threatens US on European missile defense

The Russian general, Nikolai Makarov threatened the US yesterday on their European missile defense plans. General Makarov made threats Wednesday on pre-emptive attacks on missile-defense sites in Poland and other Eastern European countries. Russian officials have previously said that the sites would be attacked in case of war, but pre-emptive strikes is a new rhetoric, and the statement undermines the US-Russian relationship only days before Vladimir Putin re-enters the presidential seat. This may signal a move to a more muscular Russian foreign policy with the return of Mr. Putin.

Yesterday, Vladimir Putin proposed that the imprisoned former Ukrainian prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko could be treated in Russia. After Ukraine has rejected a proposal for Tymoshenko to be treated in Germany, Putin said that she was welcome in Russia. Ukraine denied this proposal as well, however. On the same note, Putin backed Ukraine in the controversial Euro2012 Championship issue, warning against a link between the Tymoshenko case and the football games. He said that sports and politics should not be mixed. Yesterday, the EU Kiev mission announced that all EU Commissioners would boycott any football matches played in Ukraine.

At an ECB meeting in Barcelona yesterday, chief of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi urged eurozone governments to agree on a growth strategy to go hand in hand with fiscal discipline. Draghi called on governments to pursue structural reforms, and said that there is “absolutely no contradiction” between pursuing a growth pact and pushing ahead with Europe’s already agreed pact on budget discipline. The ECB chief also called for an aligned strategy for the common currency and a common European discipline for making reforms. He insisted that in order to have a fiscal union, eurozone countries need to give up some of their sovereignty.

The EU agreed with China yesterday to set up an energy partnership with open access to each other’s markets. President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said a bilateral agreement is important in the trade relations with China, while adding that “to be effective, this will also require guaranteeing ‘a level playing field’, including open and non-discriminatory access to our respective markets”. Chinese premier-to-be Li Keqiang emphasised the importance of a China-EU partnership, and said “we’re ready to contribute to solving the European debt problem. We’re committed to working with the EU and promoting our ties to a higher level”.

Li Keqiang’s visit to Europe has been under criticism for a ban on all media questions. Keqiang’s trip coincides with the diplomatic fallout over Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, but this issue has not been discussed. The two sides say that trade is the top priority of the talks.

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