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Donetsk, Lugansk Vote for ‘Parliaments’ Violates Truce and Raises Risks, Say Analysts


The Russian-backed, miniature, “people’s republics” declared in southeastern Ukraine are preparing to elect parliaments and heads of state on Sunday, a step backed by Moscow to consolidate their self-declared statehood. Those elections promise to further undermine the already wobbly political deal that underpins the half-effective ceasefire in the war. Does that increase the risk of a new surge in fighting?

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That Is the Path She Should Take, for Herself and for Brazil, Atlantic Council’s Sennes Says


Having barely won re-election in Brazil’s tightest presidential election in a quarter-century, Dilma Rousseff faces several key tasks if she is to govern effectively in her new four-year term, writes the Atlantic Council’s nonresident senior fellow in Brazil, Ricardo Sennes. She must address official corruption—including the broad bribery scandal in Petrobras, the state oil company—and social demands from the growing middle class and the urban poor that were behind the protest movement of June 2013.

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The former director and deputy director of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company, Naftogaz, will have been waiting today to hear if they are elected to Ukraine’s parliament, not least because winning seats would offer them immunity from prosecution. Prosecution for what?

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Official Tallies Are Tracking With Polls Predicting a Strong, Pro-Europe and Reformist Coalition

With 71 percent of Ukraine’s ballots counted today, the official results are broadly tracking the recent days’ polls, suggesting that Ukraine’s next government will be a pro-European coalition built across several political parties, with President Petro Poroshenko likely to rely on his alliance with a strengthened Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Despite the war in the southeast, and hundreds of thousands of uprooted families, voter turnout was greater than 50 percent, according to the Central Election Commission—a reflection of the popular demands voiced last winter by Ukraine’s pro-democracy, anti-corruption Maidan movement, writes the Atlantic Council’s Irena Chalupa.

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Parliament Election is a Defeat for Russia’s Putin: How Will He Respond?


If Sunday’s exit poll accurately depicts Ukraine’s parliamentary vote, the outcome is a stunning victory for reform and a pro-European orientation—and a big defeat for Russian President Vladimir Putin. It immediately raises the question whether Putin will respond with a new aggressive move in Ukraine.

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As Brazilians vote Sunday in a presidential runoff election, the Atlantic Council’s Peter Schecter and Jason Marczak discuss the significance and ramifications of this vote.  Schechter is the director, and Marczak the deputy director, of the Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.

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Three Questions with Magnus Nordenman: NATO, Russia, Sweden, and Security in the Baltic


As Sweden called off its week-long search today for a suspected foreign submarine in its territorial waters, the Atlantic Council’s Magnus Nordenman discussed the implications of the incident, in which public discussion suggested a Russian military intrusion. The incident comes amid recent confrontations in the Baltic Sea between Russian ships or aircraft and those of NATO member states and of Sweden (which is not a NATO member). On October 21, fighter jets from Denmark and Sweden intercepted what NATO said was a Russian surveillance plane near their territories over the Baltic—and then Portuguese F16s involved in the protection of Estonia escorted the Russian plane out of Estonian airspace. Russia has denied that it has had any submarine operating in Swedish waters.

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Billionaire investment magnate and pro-democracy philanthropist George Soros has sounded what he says is a wake-up call to Europe (and to the United States) over a failure to see that it is “facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence.” You can read here his full 3,200-word essay for the New York Review of Books, or take in his main points, below:

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‘You Didn’t See Us Here,’ Officer Admonishes, as Moscow Keeps Military Options in Ukraine


As Ukrainians elect a parliament this weekend, new evidence pops up of Russia’s military role in their country: Western journalists this week found destroyed Russian tanks in Donetsk—and very live (if somewhat drunk) Russian soldiers happy to socialize at one of the last cafés still open in Lugansk.

“You didn’t see us here,” a uniformed officer named Slava tells the reporters as they leave, a bottle of vodka under his arm. And indeed the Russian army regulars in Lugansk operate in the background, leaving locals or imported Russian volunteers to the more visible roles, according to journalists Courtney Weaver and Max Seddon.

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Ankara’s Handling of Syrian War Has Revived Its Own Kurdish Conflict


Turkey’s promise Monday to let Iraqi Kurdish guerrillas cross its border to defend the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani against the Islamist army of ISIS provides a rare sign of hope for saving Turkey’s moribund peace process with its own Kurds. Turkey’s refusal until now to facilitate help for the Syrian Kurds’ fight has ignited riots and communal violence involving Kurds across much of Turkey.

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