News / Europe

White House: US, Europe Set to Impose New Sanctions on Russia

UN Commissioner: MH17 Downing Could Be A War Crimei
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 29, 2014 12:33 AM
The U.N. high commissioner for human rights says the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in rebel-held eastern Ukraine "may amount to a war crime." Commissioner Navi Pillay's assessment Monday came as an international team of investigators and police was again prevented from visiting the site after heavy fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from Kyiv.

Related video report by Henry Ridgwell:

VOA News

A senior White House official says the United States expects the European Union to impose new, tougher sanctions on Russia for its continued support of separatists in eastern Ukraine, and that the United States also will take additional measures against Moscow.

Tony Blinken, a deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama, spoke to reporters in Washington Monday after Obama discussed the situation in eastern Ukraine in a joint telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

The White House said the four leaders "agreed on the importance of coordinated sanctions measures on Russia for its continued transfer of arms, equipment, and fighters into eastern Ukraine," including since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. They also agreed to "press Russia to end its efforts to destabilize the country and instead choose a diplomatic path for resolving the crisis."

Blinken said Russia has used the international attention to the downing of the Malaysian airliner as "a cover and distraction" to increase its deliveries of heavy weaponry, convoys of tanks, multiple rocket launchers, artillery and armored vehicles to the rebels. He added there is evidence Moscow is preparing to deliver "even more powerful multiple rocket launchers."

He said Washington expects the EU to take significant steps this week, including in "key sectors of the Russian economy," and that the United States also will implement "additional measures" in coordination with its European allies.

Russia, meanwhile, said it would not impose tit-for-tat measures or “fall into hysterics” over Western sanctions.

“We can't ignore it. But to fall into hysterics and respond to a blow with a blow is not worthy of a major country,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

He added that sanctions could in fact have the opposite effect of making Russia more economically independent.

UN: Downing of MH17 could be 'war crime'

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in rebel-held eastern Ukraine could be ruled a “war crime." 

Navi Pillay said Monday in a statement "the horrendous shooting down" of the aircraft on July 17 was a violation of international law that "may amount to a war crime."   She called for a "prompt, thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigation" into the downing of the plane.

A man walks past wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region, July 26, 2014.A man walks past wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region, July 26, 2014.
x
A man walks past wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region, July 26, 2014.
A man walks past wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region, July 26, 2014.


Pillay said every effort will be made to ensure that anyone committing serious violations of international law in the Ukraine conflict, "including war crimes," will be brought to justice, "no matter who they are."

U.S. analysts say the Malaysian airliner was shot down by a surface-to-air  missile near the Russian border. U.S. experts have concluded that a Russian SA-11 "Buk" missile downed the aircraft and that ill-trained rebels likely fired the missile, mistaking the aircraft for a Ukrainian military plane. Rebels have dismissed the charge.

U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said Monday he believes there are still SA-11 launchers in Ukraine, potentially in separatist hands.

Ukraine's military says it captured more territory Monday from pro-Russian rebels near the site of a downed Malaysian airliner, and it says flight data shows the jetliner was destroyed by missile shrapnel.

Military spokesman Andriy Lysenko spoke Monday in Kyiv, as security forces pressed their offensive against heavily armed pro-Russian separatists near the Russian border.  Lysenko also accused separatists of firing mortar and artillery into the crash site to destroy evidence of their involvement in the July 17 shootdown, which killed all 298 people on board.

Fighting Monday near the crash site forced international investigators to abandon plans to gain access to the area for a second straight day.

British investigators analyzing flight recorder data did not comment on Lysenko's shrapnel claim, and Dutch investigators leading the probe refused to confirm it.

Fighting in the area where the plane crashed has forced a team of international investigators to abandon plans to gain access to the site for a second straight day.  The team of Dutch and Australian experts said earlier Monday the group was renewing efforts to reach the site.

UN releases Ukraine report

Pillay’s office has also just released a report on the conflict in Ukraine, saying that to date it has killed 1,129 people, wounded 3,442 and displaced more than 100,000 internally.

The report points to an alarming increase of human rights violations in eastern areas controlled by armed groups. It says such groups continue to abduct, detain, torture and execute people kept as hostages to intimidate and exercise power over the population.

According to Gianni Magazzeni of the U.N. Human Rights Office, the report also notes an increasing “professionalization of the armed groups,” which he said are “led both politically and militarily by citizens of the Russian Federation.”

The report also says the situation in Crimea, which Russia annexed in March, continues to worsen. It says harassment and discrimination against Ukrainian nationals, Crimean Tatars, religious minorities and activists is intensifying.

Ukraine reports battlefield progress

Ukraine says its troops have taken more territory from pro-Russia rebels near the MH17 crash site. Officials say two rebel-held towns have been recaptured and an operation was started to take a village Kyiv says was near the launch site of the surface-to-air missile that downed the plane.      

A spokesman for Ukraine's Security and Defense Council, Andriy Lysenko, told a news conference in Kyiv Ukrainian troops were now in the towns of Torez and Shakhtarsk, while fighting was underway for the village of Snizhne - close to the presumed missile launch location.

In rebel-held Donetsk local officials said artillery fire had damaged residential blocks, houses, power lines and a gas pipeline. The city, which before the conflict broke out had a population of nearly one million, has largely become a ghost town since rebels dug in for a stand in the face of advancing Ukrainian troops.

  • Self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic policemen watch people fleeing Shakhtarsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, July 28, 2014.
  • Self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic policemen watch shelling in Shakhtarsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, July 28, 2014.
  • Smoke from shelling rises over a residential apartment house in Shakhtarsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, July 28, 2014.
  • A convoy of international forensic experts, Dutch and Australian policemen and members of the OSCE mission abandoned its attempt to reach the crash site of  Malaysia Airlines MH17 for a second day as clashes raged in the town of Shakhtarsk, in the Donetsk region, July 28, 2014.
  • Local residents walk past armed pro-Russian separatists as they flee from what they say was shelling by Ukrainian forces, in the suburbs of Shakhtarsk, Donetsk region, July 28, 2014.
  • A car drives down the main street of the city of Donetsk, July 27, 2014.
  • Ukrainian emergencies ministry officer, left, Donetsk People's Republic fighter, 2nd left, and members of the OSCE mission in Ukraine examine a map as they discuss the situation around the site of crashed Malaysia Airlines MH17, in the city of Donetsk, July 27, 2014.


Hagel speaks with Heletey

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke Monday by phone with Valeriy Heletey, asking his Ukrainian counterpart for his assessment of developments in Ukraine, the Pentagon said.

Heletey conveyed that despite steady progress by the Ukrainian military, the situation in eastern Ukraine continues to worsen.  The minister attributed the increasing levels of violence, including the downing of MH17, to direct Russian support for the separatists, according to a read-out of the conversation provided by the U.S. Defense Department.

Heletey also expressed his country's interest in additional security assistance from the United States. In response, Hagel assured him that the U.S. government will continue to review all such requests within a broad interagency process.

Maidan – a ‘geopolitical project’

Russia has called Ukraine’s Maidan – site of massive protests which in February toppled the pro-Moscow government of president Viktor Yanukovych – a “geopolitical project” intended to hurt Russia.

“[The project] began developing last year on the Maidan, under a completely made-up pretext, when an incumbent president was denied the right to take additional time to study the effects of an association agreement with the European Union,” said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a briefing at his ministry in Moscow Monday.

“As the Maidan unfolded it became clear that it was indeed a geopolitical project intended to take control of Ukrainian geopolitical space, and to do so to the detriment of Russia’s interests, as well as the interests of the Russian and Russian-speaking population of Ukraine itself," said Lavrov, adding that the project won’t succeed.

Yanukovych triggered massive street protests against his government last November when he shunned an anticipated economic pact with the EU in favor of a $15 billion bailout by Russia.

Lavrov did not mention any countries by name but Russia has previously accused the U.S. of orchestrating the protests in Ukraine.

Moscow questions US images

Russia’s Defense Ministry on Monday questioned the authenticity of images the United States says are providing proof that the Russian military has fired rockets at Ukrainian troops from Russian territory.

The satellite images were released Sunday by the State Department in a four-page document and tweeted by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt (see below).

“Such materials weren't posted on Twitter coincidentally, since it's impossible to establish their authenticity due to the lack of exact reference to the location and the extremely low resolution,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.

According to the State Department, the images show launch sites and impact craters around Ukrainian military locations.

The satellite images as tweeted by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt:

Lisa Schlein contributed to this report from Geneva, Jeff Seldin from the Pentagon. Some information provided by Reuters.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: Angela from: USA
July 28, 2014 9:52 AM
everything "may be a war crime..." to the UN... The UN has lost all credibility... the bullshit exposed to be just what it is... a tweet!!!

In Response

by: Jason from: Seattle
July 28, 2014 11:38 AM
Flashback to 1988 when the USA shot down an Iranian civilian passenger plane, killing all 290 on board. Strangely enough it was not considered a "war crime" when the US shot it down

     

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid