World News

Kerry: Russia 'Has Not Taken Single Step' to Ease Ukraine Crisis

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has accused Russia of not taking "a single concrete step" to de-escalate the Ukrainian crisis.

In a blistering attack Thursday, Kerry said Russia has failed to uphold the four-party deal it signed last week to ease tensions in eastern Ukraine.

He said Moscow's refusal to restrain pro-Russian separatists there will be "an expensive mistake," saying more sanctions are possible.

On Friday, credit agency Standard and Poor's cut Russia's credit rating to BBB- , underscoring the risks of Russia's policies in Ukraine.

The agency said it is concerned about increased capital outflows from Russia, and said the rating could be cut further if sanctions are tightened.

U.S. officials say President Barack Obama, who is traveling in Asia, will call European leaders Friday to discuss further sanctions against Moscow.

Meanwhile, Russia is blaming Kyiv and Washington for stoking tensions by cracking down on armed pro-Russian separatists who are occupying buildings in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow's Foreign Ministry referred to Ukrainian authorities as "under the patronage of the United States." It also said the situation demands "urgent action" by Washington to ensure the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from the region.

Separately, at the United Nations, diplomats say Russia has recalled its ambassador to Moscow for emergency consultations.

The flurry of diplomatic exchanges capped a day of rising tensions along the Ukraine-Russian border, where a huge Russian military force is gathered. A Ukrainian diplomat at the United Nations told VOA that Moscow has doubled its military presence on the border to about 80,000 troops.

Russia ordered that force into new maneuvers Thursday after fighting between Ukrainian security forces and armed pro-Russian separatists left several militants dead in the flashpoint eastern city of Slovyansk. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the Ukrainian push against the separatists a "crime."

Ukraine earlier this week relaunched what it is calling "anti-terrorist" operations against separatists in about a dozen eastern cities. The separatists are demanding a referendum on whether to split with Ukraine and join Russia.

U.S. President Obama, speaking to reporters earlier Thursday in Tokyo, said Russia is not abiding by last week's Geneva agreement. He said he is not hopeful that Moscow will cooperate to ease regional tensions. That deal, approved by envoys from Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union was aimed at defusing the crisis.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs