By Stuart Grudgings and Nguyen Phuong Linh KUALA LUMPUR/PHU QUOC, Vietnam (Reuters) - The search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner expanded on Wednesday to cover a swathe of Southeast Asia, from the South China Sea to India's territorial waters, with authorities no closer to explaining what happened to the plane or the 239 people on board. Vietnam briefly scaled down search operations in waters off its southern coast, saying it was receiving scanty and confusing information from Malaysia over where the aircraft may have headed after it lost contact with air traffic control. The seas off India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also being combed for traces of the lost jet.
By Elizabeth Piper MOSCOW (Reuters) - Surrounded by faithful aides, President Vladimir Putin hears no opposition to his plans in Crimea, allowing him to drive Russia's bid to reclaim Ukraine's southern region guided by little more than his "inner voice". That the seizure of Crimea, home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet, could tip a faltering economy into recession, spark visa bans and asset freezes on top officials and isolate Russia in ways not seen since Soviet times have not been considerations. For the time being, Putin can rely on a system of control he has honed and cultivated since he first came to power 14 years ago. But the Crimea move has led to mutterings of discontent, mostly among the financial and economic ministries, who were cut out of the meeting when it was decided to act over a region Putin felt might be lost forever if Kiev's new leaders were successful in taking Ukraine into the European Union.