Vox Sentences: Russia threatens war with Ukraine — again

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Russia threatens war against Ukraine over naval sovereignty; Nancy Pelosi wins her party’s nomination for House speaker.


The rift in Ukraine-Russia relations, briefly explained

 Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Some regions of Ukraine were under limited martial law, or military control of the government, on Wednesday, with the nation’s leaders hoping it’s enough to prevent a Russian invasion. [Al Jazeera / Tamila Varshalomidze]
  • This is the first time martial law has been imposed in the Eastern European country. President Petro Poroshenko urged lawmakers in Kiev to pass the necessary legislation on Monday following a naval dispute in the Black Sea over the weekend, when Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels. [NBC News via AP]
  • The dispute in the waters off the Crimean Peninsula has a bitter history. Since March, Russia has forcefully seized and detained many Ukrainian ships for inspection, and also built a bridge linking Crimea to Russia’s southern region to assert sovereignty. The naval battle is just the latest in a series of rifts. [Washington Post / Dmitry Gorenburg and Michael Kofman]
  • Poroshenko notably said of the law: “I don’t want anyone to think this is fun and games. Ukraine is under threat of a full-scale war with Russia.” [The Journal]
  • The Kremlin denounced the 30-day military control of the government, saying it will escalate tensions between the two nations. Russian President Vladimir Putin also accused Poroshenko of staging the Crimea attack to boost his ratings ahead of the 2019 presidential election. [BBC]
  • If that’s the case, it appears it may have partly worked. Nationalists took to the streets Monday to violently protest the Russian attack and praise Poroshenko for acting so swiftly. Many more residents in Ukraine and Poland held peaceful rallies in support of the law and condemnation of the attack. [Reuters / Matthias Williams]
  • In response to Ukraine’s move, Russia plans to send more S-400 missiles, which can travel as far as 250 miles, in Crimea in case the clash grows bigger. [NPR / Bill Chappell]
  • In a rare break with Russia, US President Donald Trump also condemned the naval conflict, threatening to cancel his meeting with Putin at the upcoming G20 summit if the situation is not resolved. [Bloomberg / Joshua Gallu]

The unopposed Nancy Pelosi

  • House Democrats once again chose California Rep. Nancy Pelosi as their pick for speaker in leadership elections Monday. She still faces a full House vote in January to secure the bid. [CBS News]
  • Pelosi faced her toughest challenge yet. Several Democrats spoke out against her leadership after regaining control of the lower chamber of Congress in the midterm elections, saying the caucus needed younger and more progressive faces to represent it. [NPR / Scott Detrow]
  • However, Pelosi is so far running unopposed. At one point, Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge was rumored as a potential challenger, but Pelosi forged a deal placing Fudge as the chair of the reinstated House subcommittee overseeing elections if she’s appointed speaker, earning her allyship. [Politico / Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan]
  • Matt Yglesias writes that Pelosi’s strength lies not in her public speaking skills, but rather her legislative prowess. If she’s elected speaker, Democrats’ task will be to find a new talking head who can represent the entire caucus to the media. [Vox / Matt Yglesias]
  • Sixteen Democratic Congress members (incumbent and elect) signed a letter last week stating they will oppose Pelosi’s bid in the January vote. She needs 218 total House votes to win the election. With one race still uncalled, Democrats currently hold 234 seats, meaning she cannot afford to lose another vote from her party. [Vox / Ella Nilsen]

Miscellaneous

  • Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, first published in 1985, is getting a sequel, slated for release in September 2019. [Vanity Fair / Laura Bradley]
  • A Scientific American story is making the rounds on the internet and receiving backlash from dog lovers everywhere, as it publishes the findings of a study that says dogs are not that “exceptional” after all. [Scientific American / David Z. Hambrick]
  • Famed actress Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her performance as Anita in the 1961 West Side Story movie, is making a comeback in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the musical — this time, as an executive producer. [BBC]
  • Aziz Ansari announced a pan-American standup tour that will kick off in February 2019. This marks the first full tour for the actor and comedian since he was accused of sexual misconduct at the onset of the #MeToo era. [Pitchfork / Sam Sodomsky]

Verbatim

“The first time I saw it, they give you a tissue box in the screening room, and I thought, ‘Oh, that’s very nice. I don’t have a cold.’ … They started screening the movie and 25 minutes into the movie, I stood up and went to the back of the room.” [John Krasinski’s reaction to watching wife Emily Blunt portray Mary Poppins in the sequel film out in December / Huffington Post]


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