World News

Obama Expands Sanctions on Russians Behind Crimea Takeover

U.S. President Barack Obama has announced further sanctions against Russia for its annexation of of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, triggering a round of Russian sanctions targeting nine U.S. officials and lawmakers.

Speaking at the White House, Mr. Obama said he is penalizing more individuals and a bank involved in Russia's occupation of the Black Sea peninsula. Earlier, the United States limited travel and the economic activity of several key Russians involved in the Crimea takeover.

The president also said he is considering further penalties to entire sectors of the Russian economy, as well as specific individuals. He said those plans are being formulated in conjunction with European allies.

Later Thursday, Moscow retaliated with travel bans on nine Americans, including Republican Senator John McCain, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told VOA that Washington will not allow one country to destroy what he called "the post-World War Two order."



Kerry, however, also said he hopes the U.S.-Russian standoff over Ukraine does not affect bilateral cooperation on other international issues including Syria, Afghanistan and Iran.

Russian forces effectively took control of Crimea two weeks ago in the wake of the ouster of Ukraine's pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, after months of protests and violence in Kyiv.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday named 16 Russians as targets of the new sanctions.

The list includes Sergei Naryshkin, speaker of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament; Sergei Ivanov, the chief of staff to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Vladimir Yakunin, head of the state-owned company Russian Railways, who is described as a "close confidant" of the Russian leader.

Gennady Timchenko, a founder of Gunvor -- one the world's largest independent commodity trading companies in the energy sector -- also appeared on the list, along with Yuri Kovalchuk, described by U.S. officials as the largest single shareholder in Bank Rossiya. The bank itself also made the sanctions list.

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers the European Union is prepared to move to "Level 3" measures, which would include broader economic sanctions, if the crisis worsens.

Ms. Merkel also said the Group of Eight leading economies is effectively suspended as long as the diplomatic standoff with Russia continues. Russia is part of the G8, along with Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs