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

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid