February 6, 2014 10:06 AM EST

Russia Maneuvers To Regain Control In Ukraine

After four days of sick leave, Ukraine’s embattled President, Viktor Yanukovych, returned to work on Feb. 3 to what looked like a Cold War flashback, with Russia and the West again vying for influence over his country.

In November, his decision to partner with Moscow instead of forming closer ties with the E.U. earned him a $15 billion loan from Russia, just enough to help Ukraine avoid bankruptcy. But the sudden turn away from Europe sparked a popular uprising, and attempts to crack down only made the protests swell. By late January, Yanukovych was forced to offer concessions, including top government posts, to his pro-Western rivals.

The Kremlin grew furious. Concerned about its hold over Ukraine, Moscow froze the emergency loan on Jan. 30, while one of President Vladimir Putin’s top advisers accused the U.S. of funding the rebellion and warned Yanukovych to “crush it” at once.

The pressure appears to be working. At the very least, it led Yanukovych to stop giving ground to the protest leaders, who then flew to Germany on Feb. 1 to seek help from E.U. officials. What they needed was a bailout to rival Russia’s loan. But the West has so far refused to be drawn into a bidding war over the former Soviet republic.

The result: as Yanukovych prepared to meet Putin at the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi on Feb. 7, Russia had the stronger hand despite continuing protests.


‘It could rob us of the diplomatic high ground we worked so hard to reach.’

HILLARY CLINTON, in a letter to Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, backing the White House in warning Congress against new sanctions targeting Iran. As the U.S. tries to negotiate a permanent nuclear deal, she said, it is important “that our government’s efforts work in coordination.”



The E.U. asked people across Europe about their perception of corruption. Below, percentages who said it was “widespread” in their country:

99% Greece

97% Italy

64% U.K.

29% Finland

20% Denmark

The Explainer

The Battle Within Al-Qaeda in Syria

On Feb. 3, al-Qaeda’s leadership cut ties with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), one of its two franchises in Syria. The schism could intensify clashes among rebels even as the country’s civil war shows no sign of slowing after nearly three years.


Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri never wanted ISIS, which is headed by al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to expand into Syria. But al-Baghdadi publicly refused to cooperate last year and tried to co-opt the Nusra Front, the existing al-Qaeda franchise in the country.


ISIS prioritizes the creation of an Islamic state over the ousting of President Bashar Assad, putting it at odds with other rebels. Fighting broke out Jan. 3 between ISIS and a new alliance that included the Nusra Front, killing hundreds.


ISIS has turned brutal tactics honed in Iraq, including its signature suicide bombings, against other rebel brigades. It has executed prisoners from rival groups, and it killed 16 Islamist fighters in an attack the day before the al-Qaeda announcement.

The Bangkok Shutdown


An antigovernment protester listens to a speech by Suthep Thaugsuban, a former lawmaker leading demonstrations against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, on Feb. 3 in Bangkok. The day before, protesters disrupted the general election, reiterating calls for Yingluck to step down. They continue to block major intersections throughout the Thai capital as part of the “Bangkok Shutdown” that began three weeks ago.


The Art World’s Biggest Fakes

Christian Parisot, an expert on Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, was expected in court in early February on charges of knowingly authenticating forgeries worth millions. Here are examples of other supposedly great works exposed as fakes:

Johannes Vermeer

After World War II, a “Vermeer” owned by Hermann Göring turned out to be one of many fakes by Han van Meegeren.

Jackson Pollock

Some $80 million worth of forgeries, including a drip painting attributed to Pollock, were part of a scheme uncovered last year involving dozens of fakes, many sold through Manhattan’s once prestigious, now closed Knoedler Gallery.

Pablo Picasso

L.A. art dealer Tatiana Khan pleaded guilty to fraud charges in 2010 after selling a fake attributed to Picasso for $2 million.

Max Ernst

German art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi was convicted in 2011 of selling millions of dollars’ worth of fakes, but not before one was reportedly displayed at a retrospective for German painter Max Ernst at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.



Projected rise in cancer cases in the next 20 years, to 22 million per year, according to the World Health Organization, which said the rise could be halved by tackling smoking and other known causes

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The U.S. helped Libya destroy its chemical weapons, the New York Times reported. Up next for the world community: Syria’s much larger arsenal


A fisherman from El Salvador–who says he spent over a year at sea, living on turtle blood, fish and birds–washed ashore on the Marshall Islands in a damaged boat


The Russian city of Sochi hired a pest-control firm to exterminate stray dogs ahead of the Winter Olympics


At least 15 people died after a volcano unexpectedly erupted in Indonesia. Subsequent rescue efforts were hampered by clouds of toxic ash

This appears in the February 17, 2014 issue of TIME.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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