News / Europe

    Ukraine Signs EU Accord as Russia Annexes Crimea

    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (left) and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy exchange documents at the signing ceremony in Brussels on March 21.Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (left) and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy exchange documents at the signing ceremony in Brussels on March 21.
    x
    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (left) and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy exchange documents at the signing ceremony in Brussels on March 21.
    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (left) and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy exchange documents at the signing ceremony in Brussels on March 21.
    As Ukraine took a historic step closer to Europe, its strategic, predominately Russian-speaking province of Crimea went firmly into Moscow’s grip. President Putin signed bills at the Kremlin completing its annexation.

    In Brussels, Ukraine’s Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk explained his country only had two options to respond to Russia’s moves. 

    “The first one is military, which is not really acceptable for the world to have the third world war," he noted. "The second one is political, diplomatic and economic. The best way to contain Russia is to impose real economic leverage over them.”

    The political accord between Kyiv and the EU does not immediately change anything on the ground in Ukraine. But Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister Danylo Lubkivsky says the pact puts Ukraine on a new path to tackle the host of problems it faces.

    “We are doing an enormous piece of work right now - having the Crimea conflict, having the economy in a very bad situation, having all those corruption and ill problems that are the heritage of the previous rule,” he said.

    Monies owed

    Adding to those concerns, Moscow is asserting Kyiv owes it billions of dollars for past natural gas deliveries, and has warned it could reconsider the discount for natural gas that Russian President Vladimir Putin promised late last year to ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych. Moscow has cut natural gas deliveries to Ukraine several times in the last decade.

    U.S. Special Envoy on Energy, Carlos Pascual (a former ambassador to Ukraine) is in Kyiv to talk with government leaders about the country’s energy security. He says Ukraine could be gas self-reliant by 2020.

    The ambassador expressed hope Russia will continue to want to utilize the transit system through Ukraine.

    “And in order to be able to satisfy the demands of its customers throughout central Europe, throughout Western Europe, Russia has an opportunity to be able to utilize the supply routes that exist and to continue to supply gas that would also come to Ukraine,” he said.

    Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov, left, welcomes U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 21, 2014.Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov, left, welcomes U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 21, 2014.
    x
    Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov, left, welcomes U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 21, 2014.
    Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov, left, welcomes U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 21, 2014.
    After a stop in Moscow, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Kyiv to meet with top officials of the interim government. He immediately expressed concern about the possibility of the crisis expanding beyond the region.

    “This current crisis can only be resolved through peaceful diplomatic solutions based on the principles of the United Nations Charter, including respect for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and a determined statesmanlike pursuit of peace and security," Ban said. "There has to be a real dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow.”

    Ihor Smeshko, a former head of Ukraine’s intelligence service who was a colonel in the Soviet army, said if Ukraine’s military and reserves are not mobilized for defense, that will be interpreted as a lack of will to protect the country’s sovereignty.

    “If we will not show for the whole world and for Ukrainian people that this government and this country is prepared to defend themselves it would be the hugest provocation to our former strategic partner [Russia] and now the main strategic opponent to go further,” Smeshko said.

    Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador Stephen Mull in Warsaw reiterated to reporters the American and Polish governments are discussing expanding aviation detachment exercises to include forces from the Baltics, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania.

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Oleg from: Moscow
    March 26, 2014 2:20 PM
    Today I heard the chattering of two young Russian women and learned a great secret, they said that Italy, Spain and Greece despite EU sanctions towards Russia gives and will be giving the entry visas to these countries for the Russians. It was said that all country will be banning the Russin from giving them the visas, but only these 3 countries will be giving the entry-visas to Russians in spite of the global ban. Also, I learned that those two Russian women seem to have bypassed the embassy in granting the visas because it was done through the Russian firms. Why is it so necessary - to make exceptions for pretty but stuped Russian women? Who needs these Russian prostitutes in Europe? I think no one wants them any longer. Stop this channel of gelivering the Russian women and other Russians into Europe through the Mediterranean countries - Greece, Italy and Spain. These country must be determined on which side the governments of these countries have been - with the EU or with aggressive Russia. That is the question.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora