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News Wrap: Russia rejects idea that it might return Crimea to Ukraine

February 15, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The Russians rejected any notion of returning Crimea to Ukraine. Just yesterday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said President Trump expects exactly that. The Russians annexed Crimea in March of 2014, and, today, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said, “We never give back our territory.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a pointed warning today to NATO allies on defense spending. He said they will have to do more, or run the risk that the U.S. will — quote — “moderate its commitment to the alliance.”

Mattis attended his first NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels and argued President Trump’s case that the allies share more of the burden.

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. Secretary of Defense: It’s a fair demand that all who benefit from the best defense in the world carry their proportionate share of the necessary costs to defend freedom. And we should never forget, ultimately, it is freedom that we defend here at NATO.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Trump administration wants NATO members to meet an established target of spending 2 percent of their economic output on defense. The U.S. spends more than 3.5 percent.

In Malaysia, police arrested a woman in the apparent assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s supreme leader. Malaysian news accounts say two women splashed a chemical on him at the Kuala Lumpur Airport on Monday. U.S. and South Korean officials say they were North Korea agents. Meanwhile, an autopsy on Kim’s body began today at this medical institute in Malaysia. That’s despite North Korean objections.

The European Union’s Parliament approved a landmark trade deal with Canada today after years of negotiations. Supporters at the Parliament, in Strasbourg, France, argued that the deal will counter rising protectionism, while, outside, hundreds of protesters warned it will do more harm than good.

ARTIS PABRIKS, European People’s Party: We made now a very historic trade deal between the best partners in the world, actually, which we can find, because I really believe that, apart from Canada, there are very few who match the standards of common values outside the European Union.

WOMAN: It’s a threat to democracy, a threat to human rights, a threat to the environment. And I suppose that what we can do now from here is to put pressure on our governments, put pressure on our MEPs to do their job, you know? And it’s not over. It’s not over until it’s over.

JUDY WOODRUFF: To be fully implemented, the trade deal will also need approval from various regional and national parliaments across Europe.

China formally announced today that it has granted President Trump a 10-year trademark. He now has the exclusive right to use his name for building construction services there through 2027. Mr. Trump already has 77 trademarks in China. He has been trying to gain this one for the last decade.

Back in this country, nearly 3,000 workers at Boeing voted on whether to unionize their plant in North Charleston, South Carolina. It is a key test for unions trying to organize in factories across the South, where most workers are non-union. The vote at Boeing involved the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

And, on Wall Street, stocks rallied again on upbeat news about consumer prices and retail sales. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 107 points to close at 20611. The Nasdaq rose nearly 37, and the S&P 500 added 11.

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