News / Europe

Amid Russian Threats, Ukraine Asks US Diplomat for Help

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (C) visits Independence Square in Kyiv, March 20, 2014.
U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (C) visits Independence Square in Kyiv, March 20, 2014.
As the U.S. president announced tougher economic sanctions to punish Russia for moving to annex Crimea, one of his top diplomats was in the Ukrainian capital to reassure nervous Ukrainians of America's solidarity with them while they are vulnerable. 

Wendy Sherman, the fourth highest ranking official in the U.S. State Department said with her voice sometimes wavering, that she could hardly hold back tears after walking through Kyiv's Maidan (independence) square.  

The heart of the Ukrainian capital is dotted with floral makeshift memorials for the more than 100 protesters who died in clashes with police prior to the president fleeing the country for neighboring Russia.

After moving to annex Ukraine's predominately Russian-speaking Crimean peninsula, Moscow is complaining that the rights of Russian speakers are also being violated in other parts of Ukraine.

"If I listen to the Russian rhetoric I would have expected to walk through the streets of Kyiv and be attacked by dangerous elements.   I was approached by schoolchildren with flowers," Sherman told reporters when asked if reconciliation is possible with Moscow amid such threats.

Sherman met Thursday with leaders of the interim government who are in place until the scheduled May 25 elections.

Former Ukrainian ambassador to the United States Oleg Shamshur said his government is pressing her for three things, foremost of which is stronger sanctions targeting the Russian economy.

"Make it really painful for the ruling regime in Russia," Shamshur urged. "Secondly, it would be pressing for the military technical preparation because our army is in pretty bad shape.  And, thirdly, we would be looking for enhanced cooperation, first of all, to prop up the Ukrainian economy."

He said that will require significant financial assistance.

President Obama on Thursday announced additional sanctions on Russian individuals and one bank while calling for the international community to provide immediate financial aid to Kyiv.  In retaliation, Moscow imposed entry bans on nine U.S. lawmakers and officials.

Meanwhile, Russia has given Ukraine a Friday deadline to pull all of its military forces out of Crimea.

VOA News asked Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister, Leonid Polyakov, if Kyiv would comply.

"I should say that unfortunately the curiosity about orders we will be giving tomorrow [those who] want to know are not only Voice of America but those who want to curb our best efforts," he responded.

Media reports say Ukraine's border guards are already pulling back to the mainland while Russia has begun handing out passports to Crimean residents.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Alec from: Moscow
March 21, 2014 5:59 AM
Finally there appears to be some hope towards justice. It seems that the U.S. and EU officials will teach Russian oligarchs to invest in their country. The problem is that they want to live like Abramovich, but to run over the country like Stalin. However, this is still insufficient and uncomplete measures. The West must apply mote broader economic, political and diplomatic sanctions against all Russian officials, including provincial governors and bussinesmen dealing with the West. The Russian State Duma and Constitutional Court of the Russia voted unanimously for the occupation of Ukraine and the intervention of Russian troops over there. It would be fair if these sanctions be extended to all members of the Rusian Duma and Russian journalists covering events in the Russian press, all those people should also be sanctioned, their assets must be frozen, and their travels to the US and EU must be banned. If there have been not imposed further economic sanctions against the Russian oligarchs, after 5 years, Putin will invade other European country. This present lesson should be very well understood by the international community, as well as the fact that if Putin had been stopped six years ago there in Georgia, occupation of Ukraine today would not have been possible at all.


by: Anonymous
March 20, 2014 5:53 PM
Best thing ever is happening in Russia now, Russias biggest businessmen are feeling the crunch losing hundreds of millions of dollars. It is only going to go down the chain... Terrible for the people of Russia, but they need to get Putin the hell out of office before he destroys his own country by worldwide sanctions. Sadly it is up to the Russian people to oust Putin because he is poisoning the Russian world market. Putin is the worst thing possible for the Russian people, and hopefully the people of Russia rejoice and kick him out of his seat because he doesnt deserve it. Putin also should be investigated for many deaths (Chechnya, Moscow Siege, Georgia, Syria of course, and now a death in Crimea?).

Lets see a new prosperous Russia that promotes peace with the world and helping the world. What Putin is doing is not good for anyone but himself, definately not the Russian population.

Hats off to the world standing up to Putin with serious economic sanctions. Putins bully mentality will get him nowhere at all, if anything ousted, and investigated.


by: Ve Nik
March 20, 2014 1:26 PM
Obama said Ukraine is no longer a top priority for the US: finding Malaysian plane is. That's more important now. I think Ukraine got all the American help it can handle at the moment. Ukrainians were also hoping for some money, but, I guess, good advice from Washington and Brussels will have to suffice. What matters is that the West had good intentions. The road to a brighter future for Ukraine has been paved.

Right now Ukraine needs to do two things: sit quietly and try to remain in one piece until the elections, for I doubt Ukraine will survive another Maidan. I can see the incoming new government in Kiev spending a lot of time in the near future attempting to undo the damage inflicted by the current self-appointed cabinet. Ukraine has already paid too high a price for the revolutionary naivete of some of its more restless citizens. I can only hope this was a brief lapse of judgement and not an emerging pattern of social collapse.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid