World News

Merkel: Russia Risks 'Massive' Damage in Ukraine Crisis

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Russia risks "massive" political and economic damage if it does not change course in the Ukraine crisis.

In a speech to the German parliament Thursday, Ms. Merkel said Ukraine's territorial integrity is "not up for discussion."

The West and Russia have been locked in a tense standoff over Russia's military incursion into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, which has a heavy Russian influence.

Crimeans are scheduled to vote Sunday in a referendum on whether to join Russia.

In Washington Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry testified at a U.S. Senate hearing, reiterating the U.S. position that the referendum violates the constitution of Ukraine, as well as international law and the charter of the United Nations. He estimated Russia may have some 20,000 troops in Crimea.

"There is no justification, no legality to this referendum that is taking place. It violates international law, it violates the U.N. charter, it violates the constitution of Ukraine, and I don't think anybody can believe that a hastily put together, rushed referendum, taking place under the imprint of 20,000 plus troops and all that has happened, without debate, without opportunity, is a genuine referendum."

He said it is not clear whether Russia is willing to negotiate with Ukraine and the international community to resolve the conflict over Crimea peacefully.

"The question mark is, is Russia prepared to find a way to negotiate with Ukraine, with the Contact Group, with the other countries involved, in order to be able to resolve this in a way that respects their legitimate interests -- and they have legitimate interests -- but respects them in a way that doesn't violate international law and isn't at the butt of a rifle and of massive military imprint."

Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, are set to discuss Ukraine Friday in a face-to-face meeting in London.

U.S. President Barack Obama warned Russia again Wednesday that the West will "apply costs" to Moscow if it continues to interfere in Ukrainian affairs.

Speaking at the White House alongside interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Mr. Obama said Washington "completely rejects" Crimea's planned referendum Sunday. He said the vote, "patched together in a few weeks," is a violation of international law.

Mr. Yatsenyuk thanked Washington for its support and said his government is "absolutely ready and willing" for talks with Moscow; but, he said Ukraine will never surrender. He also said his government is preparing to sign an association agreement with the European Union later this month.

Meanwhile, U.S. Republican Senator John McCain was set to lead a bipartisan delegation to Kyiv Thursday. A spokesman described the visit as a show of congressional support for the interim government, "and for the Ukrainian people's aspirations for freedom, democracy and territorial integrity."

McCain and his Senate Democratic colleague, Christopher Murphy, visited Kyiv in December, at the height of anti-government protests that eventually forced pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych to flee Ukraine.

On Wednesday, leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations called on Russia to, in their words, "cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea contrary to Ukrainian law."

The G7 -- which comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States -- also said it will not recognize the referendum's outcome.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs