As talks involving Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, get underway in Belarus, evidence mounted that Russia is escalating its incursion of Ukrainian territory by sending troops and a column of tanks into eastern Ukraine.
Two airstrikes in the past week on Islamist militias fighting for control of Tripoli, Libya, are raising questions about who was behind the attacks and whether the United States knew about or condoned them. On Saturday, Aug. 23, Agence France-Presse reported that Islamist militants in Libya pointed the finger at Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Egyptian military quickly denied any involvement. On Monday, the New York Times reported that American officials confirmed that the Egyptians and Emiratis had launched the strikes, but said they'd caught the United States by surprise.
When Barack Obama's administration sanctioned a prominent Russian bank after Moscow's annexation of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointedly opened a new account at the bank punished by the sanctions. When the United States issued travel bans against prominent Russians in Putin's inner circle because of Moscow's continued meddling in Ukraine, Putin placed a travel ban on longtime critic Sen. John McCain. When Western allies levied penalties against Russia's energy sector after Putin-backed anti-government rebels inside Ukraine shot down a Malaysia Airlines flight, killing 298, the Russian strongman responded by banning American and European agricultural imports. He then shut down the biggest symbol of American cultural might in Russia: McDonald's.
Iraqi officials have given their American counterparts clear signals that Baghdad is willing to let U.S. fighter jets operate out of Iraqi air bases, a move that would allow planes to stay airborne longer and deliver more strikes. But the Obama administration, at least for now, doesn't seem all that interested.
The death toll in the worst Ebola outbreak in history topped more than 1,200 as of Tuesday, according to the World Health Organization. The good news is that, for now, new cases appear to be limited to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. The bad news is that even if the outbreak doesn't spread beyond West Africa, the economic and political fallout in this fragile part of the world will likely last years, experts said.