Ukraine president's office says an agreement with Russia on a cease-fire has been reached
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Wednesday that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin have reached agreement on a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, but there was no immediate indication that the fighting would stop.
The brief statement said "mutual understanding was reached regarding the steps that will contribute to the establishment of peace" but gave no details.
"The result of the conversation was agreement on a permanent cease-fire in the Donbass," the statement said, using the collective term for the eastern Ukraine regions.
Vladimir Antyfeyev, a senior leader of the Russia-backed rebels whom Ukrainian forces have been fighting since April, told The Associated Press he could not say whether the separatists would adhere to a cease-fire because he was not commanding the forces. "But I definitely welcome this," he said.
The rebels ignored a 10-day unilateral cease-fire that Poroshenko had called in June.
Obama touts 'unwavering' US commitment to NATO self-defense amid Russia's actions in Ukraine
TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — President Barack Obama proclaimed an unwavering and permanent U.S. commitment to the security of its NATO allies, as he mounted a show of solidarity Wednesday with European nations anxious about Russia's aggression in Ukraine.
During a visit to Estonia, Obama said the U.S. would send more Air Force units and aircraft to the Baltics.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Obama called Estonia's Amari Air Base an ideal location to base those additional forces. He ticked through a list of U.S. military resources already at work in the region, and said the U.S. has a duty under the NATO charter to the alliance's collective defense.
"It is unbreakable, it is unwavering, it is eternal. And Estonia will never stand alone," Obama said in Tallinn, Estonia's port capital.
Obama's firm words came as NATO nations were preparing to commit to a more robust rapid-response force for the region, in response to the crisis between Ukraine and Russia. But shortly after Obama arrived in Europe, the office of Ukraine's president said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had reached agreement on a cease-fire — an unexpected development that added further uncertainty to Obama's meetings with regional leaders.
10 Things to Know for Today
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:
1. UKRAINE SAYS CEASE-FIRE DEAL REACHED WITH RUSSIA
The statement is made on the eve of a NATO summit, but will Ukrainian forces and the Russian-backed separatists they have been fighting since April adhere to it?
For NATO leaders meeting at this week's summit, goal is to curb Russia without provoking it
NEWPORT, Wales (AP) — The heady "we won the Cold War" days are over. When President Obama and other NATO leaders assemble here Thursday for a key summit meeting, their No. 1 goal will be an old and familiar one: protecting vulnerable alliance members from Russia, without goading the Kremlin into military action.
After reaching out to Russia for two decades as a potential partner, NATO is once again is looking for ways to curb the Kremlin's territorial ambitions without sparking a full-scale return to expensive and risky Cold War confrontation.
But the U.S.-led alliance's eastward march into Moscow's old sphere of influence, and the demonstrated willingness of Russian President Vladimir Putin to use military might to push back when it suits Moscow's strategic goals, have created a volatile and potentially dangerous situation.
Some fear getting sucked into a spiral of moves and countermoves that in the most nightmarish of scenarios might escalate into head-on confrontation between Putin's nuclear-capable military and NATO's own forces.
On Monday, NATO announced plans for a new rapid-deployment force and the advance stockpiling of ammunition and fuel to better protect Poland and other alliance members in Eastern Europe that feel threatened by Russia.
Obama says US won't be intimidated by Islamic State after second 'horrific' beheading video
TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the United States will not be intimidated by Islamic State militants after the beheading of a second American journalist and will build a coalition to "degrade and destroy" the group.
Obama still did not give a timeline for deciding on a strategy to go after the extremist group's operations in Syria. "It'll take time to roll them back," the president said at a news conference during a visit to Europe.
Obama's comments came after he said the United States had verified the authenticity of a video released Tuesday showing the beheading of freelance reporter Steven Sotloff, two weeks after journalist James Foley was similarly killed.
Obama vowed the U.S. would not forget the "terrible crime against these two fine young men."
"Our reach is long and justice will be served," Obama said.
Japan's Abe picks 5 women in new Cabinet, tying record, to promote female leadership
TOKYO (AP) — Japan's prime minister picked five women for his Cabinet Wednesday, matching the past record and sending the strongest message yet about his determination to revive the economy by getting women on board as workers and leaders.
Japan has a vast pool of talented, well-educated women, but they are far under-represented in positions of power in government and corporations. Women make up 10 percent of parliament and just 3.9 percent of board members of listed Japanese companies, versus 12 percent in the U.S. and 18 percent in France.
Women here have long complained about the obstacles to getting taken seriously at work, getting equal pay for equal work and finding child-care or helpful spouses.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said that a key part of his "Abenomics" growth strategy is making greater use of women and promoting them to leadership posts — a campaign dubbed "womenomics," a term he has embraced. Abe has set a goal of having women in 30 percent of leadership positions in both the private and public sectors by 2020.
Having five women in the Cabinet, which currently has 18 members, is extremely rare for Japan. It matches the highest number, set back in 2001, under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Abe's previous Cabinet, dissolved earlier in the day, had two women ministers.
Media lawsuits seek any juvenile records of 18-year-old Ferguson police shooting victim
CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — Lingering questions about Michael Brown could be answered Wednesday as two news organizations seek the release of any possible juvenile records for the unarmed 18-year-old who was killed by a Missouri police officer last month.
Juvenile records are confidential in Missouri, so it's not definitively known if Brown was arrested before he legally became an adult. Police have said Brown had no adult criminal record. The family's attorney, Benjamin Crump, has refused to discuss whether Brown had a juvenile record.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and a California online journalist have filed separate petitions in St. Louis County Family Court to determine whether Brown had past legal trouble. Both cite an overriding public right to know Brown's background after his shooting death by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson sparked more than a week of sometimes-violent protests and drew international scrutiny.
The more basic argument boils down to the question of whether Brown's privacy rights extend beyond the grave.
The lawsuit by Charles C. Johnson of Fresno, California, cites a 1984 Missouri Court of Appeals ruling in which the juvenile records of an 18-year-old who was killed while shoplifting at a supermarket were released as part of a wrongful death lawsuit.
APNewsBreak: UN's Iran nuke probe stalls, threatening chances of atomic deal by November
VIENNA (AP) — A new and seemingly promising U.N probe of allegations that Iran worked on atomic arms has stalled, diplomats say, leaving investigators not much further than where they started a decade ago and dampening U.S. hopes of reaching an overarching nuclear deal with Tehran by a November deadline.
Expectations were high just two weeks ago, when chief U.N. nuclear inspector Yukiya Amano emerged from talks in Tehran with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani saying Iran had given "a firm commitment" of cooperation.
"We have started and that is important," Amano said, suggesting that the years of deadlock had been broken.
His high-profile trip was meant to kick-start the latest effort to investigate the allegations. The investigation was agreed to in February but had made little progress.
Two diplomats told The Associated Press that Amano's International Atomic Energy Agency will report no substantial progress this week, when it issues its latest confidential report on the status of the investigations — a finding that could impact on the Iran-six power nuclear talks.
Gulf of Maine, lucrative fishery, warming faster than 99 percent of world's oceans
FRIENDSHIP, Maine (AP) — Imagine Cape Cod without cod. Maine without lobster. The region's famous rocky beaches invisible, obscured by constant high waters.
It's already starting to happen. The culprit is the warming seas — and in particular the Gulf of Maine, whose waters are heating up faster than 99 percent of the world's oceans, scientists say.
Long-established species of commercial fish, like cod, herring and northern shrimp, are departing for colder waters. Black sea bass, blue crabs and new species of squid — all highly unusual for the Gulf — are turning up in fishermen's nets.
The Gulf of Maine's warming reflects broader trends around the North Atlantic. But the statistic — accepted by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — underscores particular fears about the Gulf's unique ecosystem and the lucrative fishing industries it supports for three U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.
"These changes are very real, and we're seeing them happen quickly," said Malin Pinsky, a biology professor at New Jersey's Rutgers University who studies ocean temperature change and was not involved in the research that resulted in the 99 percent statistic.
Capture of 45 Fiji troops in Syria raises questions about their role as UN peacekeepers
SUVA, Fiji (AP) — For years, Fiji's tiny military force has carried out two high-profile tasks: Leading coups, and peacekeeping. It's a mix that has drawn questions — now more than ever, with 45 Fijian troops captured by Syrian insurgents.
The force of just 3,500 is devoted largely to peacekeeping around the world, but lacks the sophisticated hardware other militaries rely on to keep their troops safe. The troops have not trained with their Australian, New Zealand and American counterparts since 2006, when the military took control of this relaxed South Pacific nation of 900,000.
Fiji wasn't even sure at first how many of its troops were captured last week in the Golan Heights, where they were part of a U.N. force that has monitored the buffer zone between Syria and Israel for four decades. The U.N. announced that 43 were taken. Fiji later said it was 44. By Monday, Fiji had raised the number to 45.
Jone Baledrokadroka, Fiji's former land forces commander who is now a visiting fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra, said the Golan Heights deployment appeared rushed.
"They decided to go in June last year, and by August they were in," he said. "It was quite hasty. I knew they didn't have the logistics and training for such a deployment, or for the escalating violence in Syria."