Need To Know

Ukrainian troops are on the move. Reports on Thursday said commandos had begun an operation in Slovyansk, a separatist stronghold in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine's interior ministry said "up to five" militants had been killed while the government's troops removed illegal checkpoints in the city. The ministry also urged civilians to remain indoors.

The country's interior minister also claimed "civilian activists" had regained control of Mariupol's city hall from pro-Russian groups.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said if Kyiv authorities had indeed begun using the army against civilians it was a "serious crime against its people."

In Japan for a state visit, President Barack Obama made his first comments on the situation in Ukraine since a deal was reached in Geneva on April 17. He said Russia had not abided by the spirit or letter of the deal.

"Instead we continue to see malicious, armed men taking over buildings, harassing folks who are disagreeing with them, destabilizing the region and we haven't seen Russia step out and discouraging it," he said from Tokyo.

While Obama praised the Kyiv government for offering amnesty and reforms as concessions, he said it was clear there was no military solution to the crisis. His comments were likely made before reports of the latest violence.

Want To Know

Rivals, frenemies and other diplomatic tangles in Asia. When President Barack Obama set foot in Japan this week, it was the first full state visit by a US president since Clinton in 1996. Eighteen years have passed, and the Asia now before Obama is quite different.

China is asserting ever-more bold claims to territories hundreds and even thousands of miles from its coasts, in the South China Sea. A pugnacious North Korea appears prepared to move forward with a fourth nuclear test.

Meanwhile, South Korea and Japan — two countries that are supposed to be friendly — have spent the past year bickering over historical grievances, hurting efforts for a unified Asian front against both of these security threats.

Geoffrey Cain looks at the four key changes in Japan that are driving Obama's agenda.

This is Israel's nightmare. Fewer Israelis were killed in 2013 than at any point since the outbreak of the second intifada. But the bombings haven't stopped. In fact, they may be on the rise. The thing that has changed is the perpetrators: These bombs can be traced back to
technologically advanced organized crime groups.

Israelis are discovering the drawbacks of a society where everyone serves in the army: a whole lot of citizens know how to use explosives.

A mob war has been raging throughout Israel for much of the last six months. There have been at least twenty assassinations and attempted assassinations of organized crime figures since October — many of them using powerful explosives and carried out in major cities in broad daylight.

Israel is dealing with a new class of criminal — one with the tools of the army and the tactics of terrorists.

Strange But True

International dog of mystery. You may think twice about leaving your dog unattended in your car after hearing this story.

A man in Barnaul, a city in southwestern Siberia, left his Siberian husky puppy in his VAZ 2106 — also known as a Zhigula or a Lada — while he ran some errands.

The puppy grew increasingly anxious as his owner failed to return and began racing around the front seat. A witness relayed what happened next to The Siberian Times:

“The puppy went mad and managed to pull the wires which led to the engine's ignition. The car was parked on a small hill which helped it get going. The puppy was even steering the wheel, so that the car made a small semicircle and crashed into a parked Mercedes and then a SsangYong car.”

Apparently, when traffic police arrived at the scene they were in "stitches," and had no idea who to blame for the crash.

We hope the puppy had insurance. Because he sure didn't have a license.