UKRAINE

Russia accuses NATO

of military expansion

NATO members pushed Ukraine toward dropping its nonaligned status, Russia claimed Wednesday, and also criticized the alliance for expanding its military presence near Russia.

Ukraine's parliament abandoned the nonaligned position Tuesday, possibly paving the way for a bid to join NATO, in defiance of Russia's protests.

The move doesn't guarantee that Ukraine will apply to join the alliance, and its prospects for membership in the near term appear dim anyway.

Despite that, Moscow strongly protested the Ukrainian parliament's move. Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said Wednesday that unidentified NATO members had pushed Ukraine to make the move in a bid to turn it into a "forward line for confronting Russia."

"Under the slogan of a 'Russian threat,' NATO is expanding its military potential in the Baltics, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania," Antonov said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies.     - AP
IRAN

Economic growth touted

Iran's economy expanded 4 percent in the six months from March 21, President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday, in a return to growth after two years of recession. In the 16 months since it came to power, the government has also "curtailed inflation from 40 percent down to 17" percent, Rouhani said in the eastern city of Birjand, according to the Iranian Students News Agency. "Economic revival has begun." - Bloomberg
SOMALIA

Doubts over fishing deal

Somalia is seeking to renegotiate an agreement that gives a company run by former British soldiers sole control over one of the world's richest fishing grounds off the longest coastline in Africa. The deal, signed last year with Somalia Fishguard Ltd., provided the company with an "extremely high" share of the revenue compared with similar agreements and failed to detail its investment commitments, Fisheries Minister Mohamed Olow Barow said in a letter. - Bloomberg