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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs