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Morning Brief: Will they stay or will they go?

Top Story Uriel Sinai/Getty Images Russian forces have seized control of the port in Poti, Georgia, and appear to be digging in along a buffer zone nine miles from South Ossetia. “Practically speaking there are so far no signs of withdrawal at all,” Georgia’s foreign minister told the Guardian, though Reuters reports that a column ...

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Top Story

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Russian forces have seized control of the port in Poti, Georgia, and appear to be digging in along a buffer zone nine miles from South Ossetia. “Practically speaking there are so far no signs of withdrawal at all,” Georgia’s foreign minister told the Guardian, though Reuters reports that a column of armor was seen leaving Gori.

NATO foreign ministers are meeting today in Brussels to hash out a common position, but the alliance is divided over how to handle Russia and support Georgia. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, for one, wants to see “hard-headed engagement,” but not an effort to isolate Russia. “It is essential that unity is preserved,” stresses French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. Ronald Asmus hopes to see sped-up enlargement plans from NATO.

Russia has shut down trade links with Georgia, which depends heavily on its Russian economic ties.

Georgia is becoming a major subject of political debate in Ukraine, where many fear their country is Russia’s next target.

Decision ’08

Obama has “all but settled on” his veep choice, the New York Times reports. It’s most likely either Delaware Sen. Biden, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, or Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine.

John McCain will announce his No.2 on August 29, Politico reports.

Global Economy

Oil majors, despite record profits, face a crisis of declining production.

This just in: fuel subsidies are bad.

The Nikkei index fell 2.7 percent on renewed fears about the U.S. financial sector. “The worst is to come,” warns former IMF chief economist Ken Rogoff.

Americas

Mexican peppers have been posing a problem at the border for months, a review of U.S. Food and Drug Administration records shows.

Hugo Chávez moved to nationalize the cement industry in Venezuela.

Cuba is considering an overhaul of its sprawling social-welfare system.

Asia

With Musharraf gone, Pakistan’s ruling coalition is out of excuses: it must decide on his replacement, resolve the status of 60 ousted judges, and repair the economy. The acting president is Senate Chairman Muhammad Mian Soomro, a respected banker. Coalition leaders are holding talks today.

Ten French soldiers died fighting Taliban forces east of Kabul, Afghanistan; a suicide bomber killed 12 workers at a U.S. base in Khost.

As of Monday, China had not permitted any actual protests in the Olympic “protest zones.” A Beijing Olympics spokesman explained, “China has its own style of democracy.”

Middle East and Africa

Tensions are rising in Kirkuk, the “powder keg” of Iraq.

A bombing killed at least 43 people at a police training facility in Algeria.

Europe

German investor confidence is back up, surprising analysts.

A terror cell in Britain was plotting to attack the Queen, authorities say.

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