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Are Russian tanks on the move?

EYEPRESS via Reuters

What We’re Watching: Ukraine latest, Israel blocks arms to Kyiv

Is Russia trying to de-escalate? The markets rallied on Tuesday after Vladimir Putin announced he would “partially pull back troops” from the Ukrainian border. Putin retained a conciliatory tone at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, saying that Russia does not seek war. While some believe this is a sign that the Kremlin is looking to de-escalate, the Russians did not say how many troops would be withdrawn. Meanwhile, Russian military drills in Belarus and Black Sea naval exercises continue, and NATO says it hasn’t seen any significant changes on the ground. In a sign that Moscow isn’t willing to ease pressure on Ukraine just yet, the State Duma on Tuesday passed a resolution calling on Putin to recognize two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent. Such a move would effectively end peace negotiations over the so-called Minsk Agreement. Will Putin give it the go-ahead?
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Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon.

REUTERS/Ammar Awad

What We're Watching: American missile defense, Chilean impeachment scandal

The US ups its missile defense game. Israel has used for years a precise missile defense system — known as the Iron Dome — as a bulwark against short-range rocket attacks from terror groups. In recent weeks, the US has been using the same technology — jointly developed by Israeli and American defense contractors — in the US Pacific territory of Guam to test its own defense capabilities against Chinese weapons, according to the Wall Street Journal. This comes after Beijing, as part of a military drill, recently sent sophisticated hypersonic missiles into space that could reach Guam, about 1,800 miles from mainland China. The Pentagon is not messing around in anticipating potential threats from Beijing right now as bilateral tensions continue to rise. However, the DOD says this tech isn't a long-term fix because Iron Dome isn't meant to be used to thwart cruise missiles, which are capable of transporting a nuclear warhead long distances. Meanwhile, the US military has requested more than $200 million to develop a new missile defense system for Guam, but Congress has yet to deliver.

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