World News

Kerry: Russia Should Take 'Concrete Steps' to Ease Ukraine Tensions

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Russia to take "concrete steps" to implement an agreement aimed at defusing tensions in Ukraine.

Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by telephone Monday that the steps Russian should take include "publicly calling on separatists to vacate illegal buildings and checkpoints, accept amnesty, and address their grievances politically." Those steps were part of an agreement reached April 17 between top diplomats from Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and the United States on easing tensions in eastern Ukraine.

A State Department spokeswoman quoted Kerry while briefing reporters in Washington.

Earlier Monday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Kyiv for talks with Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov and acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. His visit comes as the situation in eastern Ukraine remains tense, despite a deal aimed at easing the crisis.

White House officials say Biden's meetings on Tuesday will focus on the international community's efforts to help Ukraine move forward on constitutional reform and what Obama administration officials say will be a free and fair presidential election on May 25.

In addition to Mr. Turchynov and Mr. Yatsenyuk, Biden is expected to meet with Ukrainian lawmakers, sending a high-level message of U.S. support for the current Ukrainian government. The United States has threatened further sanctions on Russia if Moscow continues its support of pro-Russian demonstrators in eastern Ukraine.



Russia's Foreign Ministry, for its part, said Lavrov stressed in his phone conversation with Kerry what it described as Kyiv's "inability and unwillingness" to halt violence by the Right Sector group and other "ultra-nationalists" or to end arrests of pro-Russian activists, which it said are threatening the April 17 agreement.

The ministry said Lavrov urged Kerry to influence Kyiv not to let "hotheads there provoke a bloody conflict" and impel the Ukrainian authorities to fulfill their obligations "rigorously."

An Easter Sunday truce lasted barely a few hours before it was shattered by a gunfight at a checkpoint in the pro-Russian eastern city of Slavyansk. Three people were killed. It is not clear exactly what happened.

Ukraine blamed the attack on Russian special forces. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the Ukrainian government of not wanting to control extremists who he said are shooting unarmed civilians.

Lavrov said Monday Ukraine is "crudely" violating last week's Geneva agreement calling on all armed illegal groups in the east to disarm and leave. The agreement also calls for a mission by European monitors.

However, pro-Russian demonstrators who have taken over government buildings in about a dozen eastern Ukrainian cities have so far showed no sign of backing down.

Lavrov said the United States must recognize its responsibility for the crisis in Ukraine through its support of the new Ukrainian government.

He said attempts to isolate Russia through sanctions will fail, saying the majority of the world does not want to isolate Russia.

The pro-Russian demonstrators in Ukraine are demanding the right to hold referendums on splitting with Ukraine and joining with Russia. A vote last month in Crimea led to the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs