News / Europe

    US Criticizes Russia's Gas Price Hike for Ukraine

    FILE - A natural gas concentration point is seen near Opishnya, some 280 km of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.
    FILE - A natural gas concentration point is seen near Opishnya, some 280 km of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.
    VOA News
    The White House objected to Russia's increase in natural gas prices for Ukraine on Thursday and said markets should determine prices.

    White House Spokesman Jay Carney spoke after Russian natural gas producer Gazprom announced it would virtually double the gas price for Ukraine to $485 per 1,000 cubic meters this month, which Ukraine said was politically motivated.

    “That kind of action taken coercively against Ukraine is something we oppose,” Carney told reporters.

    “We believe that markets should determine energy prices.”
     
    The price hike amounts to an 80 percent increase, piling more pressure on Ukraine's economy, already on the brink of bankruptcy.
     
    Moscow has frequently used energy as a political weapon in dealing with its neighbors, and European customers are concerned Russia might again cut off deliveries in the worst East-West stand-off since the Cold War over Crimea.

    President Obama on Thursday signed into law a sanctions bill against Russian and Ukrainian officials tied to Russia's actions in Ukraine. The measure also includes $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine and increases funding for international broadcasting to the region.

    Ukraine inquiry

    Ukraine's new government has alleged that the February killing of protesters in Kyiv took place under the orders of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych. It has also pointed to Russian involvement in the bloodshed.

    A preliminary report presented Thursday by Ukraine's top security and justice officials also accuses the Yanukovych regime, which enjoyed backing from Moscow, of having used a network of hired killers, kidnappers and gangs of thugs to terrorize and undermine the opposition during anti-government protests in Ukraine that began in November of last year.
    Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov presents documents of the investigation as acting Attorney General Oleh Makhnitsky and Chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Valentyn Nalyvaichenko (L-R) listen in Kyiv, April 3, 2014.Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov presents documents of the investigation as acting Attorney General Oleh Makhnitsky and Chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Valentyn Nalyvaichenko (L-R) listen in Kyiv, April 3, 2014.
    x
    Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov presents documents of the investigation as acting Attorney General Oleh Makhnitsky and Chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Valentyn Nalyvaichenko (L-R) listen in Kyiv, April 3, 2014.
    Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov presents documents of the investigation as acting Attorney General Oleh Makhnitsky and Chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Valentyn Nalyvaichenko (L-R) listen in Kyiv, April 3, 2014.


    On Thursday, acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov linked special police from its Ministry of Internal Affairs, acting under orders of Mr. Yanukovych, to the killing of at least 17 protesters.  He said 12 "Berkut" police have been identified and that authorities have begun arresting them.

    For his part, Ukraine's security service chief ((Valentyn Nalyvaychenko)) said evidence shows Russian agents were involved in "the planning and implementation" of the deadly February 18-20 police operations.

    More than 100 protesters died as a result of what authorities at the time called an "anti-terrorist operation," many at the hands of government snipers, the report alleges.

    During the height of the unrest members of Russia's FSB security force had been seen at Ukraine's security service's headquarters, and a Russian plane had flown large amounts of explosives and weapons into Ukraine, one of the officials, Ukraine's new security chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, said.

    The FSB has reportedly denied involvement, but hints of Moscow's hand in the bloodshed could further strain ties with Russia, Ukraine's former Soviet overlord, which annexed Ukraine's Crimea region after Yanukovych's removal from power in what has escalated into the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War.

    Yanukovych, who fled Ukraine for Russia in late February, has denied personal responsibility for the bloodshed.

    Russian troops

    Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says troops near the Ukrainian border will return to their permanent bases as soon as they finish military exercises.

    Russia has massed troops on its border with Ukraine following Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, triggering fears of an incursion.

     
    FILE - Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei LavrovFILE - Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
    x
    FILE - Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
    FILE - Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
    Ukrainian officials have said that Moscow has moved as many as 100,000 Russian soldiers to Ukraine's eastern and southern borders. Western officials have put the number at around 40,000.

    NATO's top commander, General Philip Breedlove, said Wednesday the Russian force is "ready to go" and could take over large parts of Ukraine in a little as three days, if such an order were given.

    Foreign Minister Lavrov Thursday called on the West to de-escalate the rhetoric, which he said was crossing "into the unreasonable."

    Russia-NATO tensions

    Lavrov has also asked NATO for answers on its plans to beef up defenses in Eastern Europe -- a move seen as a direct response to the Russian takeover of Crimea.

    Lavrov said any increase in NATO's permanent presence in eastern Europe would violate a 1997 treaty on NATO-Russian cooperation.

    NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed surprise Thursday at Russia’s claims, instead accusing Moscow of "violating every principle and international commitment it has made." He called Russian claims about NATO's actions "propaganda and disinformation."
      
    FILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh RasmussenFILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
    x
    FILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
    FILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

    At a meeting in Brussels earlier this week, NATO foreign ministers announced they will officially end all civilian and military cooperation with Russia. The ministers said they do not recognize the annexation of Crimea and urged Moscow to immediately comply with international law.

    Responding to the move, Russia has recalled its top military representative to NATO “for consultations” to Moscow, a senior defense official was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying Thursday.

    “We don't see an opportunity to continue military cooperation as usual with NATO,” said Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, according to RIA Novosti.

    Russia-Germany spat

    Russia protested to Germany on Thursday over remarks by Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble which likened Russia's annexation of Crimea to Nazi Germany's expansion under Adolf Hitler.
     
    “We consider such pseudo-historical references by the German minister provocative,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “The comparisons by [Schaeuble] are a gross manipulation of historic facts.”

     
    FILE - Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang SchaeubleFILE - Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble
    x
    FILE - Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble
    FILE - Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble
    While Chancellor Angela Merkel has distanced herself from Schaeuble's comments, Russia conveyed its unhappiness to Germany’s ambassador in Moscow, Ruediger von Fritsch.

    Speaking on Monday to a group of students, Schaeuble referred to the arguments used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to justify the annexation of Crimea. Putin cited the need to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine, something Schaeuble said reminded him of Hitler's vows to protect ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia in 1938.

    Hitler first annexed parts of Czechoslovakia, and a year later invaded the rest of the country.

    Schaeuble's spokesman later denied that the minister had equated Russia with Hitler's Third Reich.

    Aviation warning

    Europe's aviation safety authority warned on Thursday of “serious risks” for international airlines flying over Crimea because there may be two services managing airspace there after the region's annexation by Russia.

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said Russia had published a series of notices saying it intended to provide air traffic services within the area controlled by the flight information center at Simferopol, Crimea's main airport.

    EASA, which is based in Germany, therefore said national aviation authorities in Europe should encourage carriers to avoid the airspace over Crimea, and use alternative routes.

    “It is unsafe if more than one Air Traffic Service provider is in charge of one single Flight Information Region (FIR); no compromise can be made with the safety of the flying passengers,” Patrick Ky, executive director at EASA, said.

    Some reporting by Reuters
     
     

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Isi from: Canada
    April 06, 2014 9:01 AM
    Really? First I thought the artice was about gas and the pricing of the same but then all of the other write ups on confering what happened in Ukraine and who is to blame came following a scantly discized article on Gas prices? The finish was even more impressive with the article veering into alliances and troops etc. Was the goal to link the hike to punishing Ukraine? If so a much better article could have bee written than this descized propaganda and brainwashing exercise. It is repeating the lines from most of the biased media out there, sad.

    by: Don
    April 04, 2014 2:31 PM
    Is it possible for other countries such as Poland or Germany to work together and buy up surpluses of gas at the same rates as usual then sell or subsidize some of the gas back to Ukraine at a more sustainable rate?

    This could circumvent radical gas hikes maybe.

    by: Avery
    April 04, 2014 3:52 AM
    The prior natural gas price was part of Yanukovych's deal with Russia struck in December 2013. Since that deal was nixed by the coup government, this price hike returns gas to the prices of December 2013. I feel like this should be explained in the article.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.