World News

Obama Meeting Ukraine's New PM at White House

U.S. President Barack Obama is hosting Ukraine's interim prime minister at the White House Wednesday, as the standoff between Russia and the West over the Ukrainian region of Crimea continues.

This is President Obama's first meeting with interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and is meant to underscore U.S. support for the new government and the Ukrainian people.

As part of the talks, Mr. Yatsenyuk and President Obama will discuss financial assistance for Ukraine. The U.S. has already pledged $1 billion in aid.

The Ukrainian interim prime minister's visit to Washington comes as Crimea, with its majority-Russian population, prepares for a Moscow-backed referendum Sunday on joining Russia.

The U.S. State Department announced Wednesday that Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on Friday in London for talks on Ukraine ahead of Sunday's referendum.

Also, in a statement released Wednesday, the 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 and in violation of international law" and "immediately halt actions" supporting the referendum on Crimea's future status.

The G7 includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

The G7 leaders said they will not recognize the referendum's outcome. They also said Russia's "annexation" of Crimea would violate the United Nations Charter and that, should Moscow take such a step, the G7 member countries will take further action, both collectively and individually.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that the European Union will impose sanctions on Russia if it does not move to set up a contact group to discuss the Crimea crisis. Ms. Merkel also said that the EU could sign a political association agreement with Ukraine's new government during an EU summit next week.

The Reuters news agency reports that EU member states have agreed on the wording of sanctions on Russia, including asset freezes and travel restrictions against some individuals. Reuters says EU officials indicate the sanctions are unlikely to target Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lavrov, in order to protect channels of communication.

A vote on the sanctions could come as early as Monday.

French President Francois Hollande told Mr. Putin in a phone call Wednesday that "annexation" of Crimea would be unacceptable, but that there was still time to prevent a "dangerous" escalation of the crisis.

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 403 to six to condemn Russia for violating Ukraine's sovereignty in Crimea. The resolution also calls for international monitors to go to the region.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by phone Tuesday that it is "unacceptable" for Russian forces and "irregulars" to keep taking matters into their own hands in Ukraine. A State Department spokeswoman said Kerry told Lavrov the U.S. respects the fact that Russia has interests in Crimea, but that does not justify military intervention in the region.

The crisis in Crimea began late last month after ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kyiv following three months of protests against his withdrawal from a European Union trade deal.

Moscow has officially denied that its troops are participating in the occupation of Crimea. But witnesses say military personnel in unmarked uniforms arrived in Russian-registered vehicles earlier this month and freely admit to being Russian.

On Tuesday, the Crimean regional legislature adopted a "declaration of independence" with the intention of eventually becoming part of Russia. Ukraine's interim government and the West have dismissed the entire independence process in Crimea as illegitimate.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

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 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.

VOA Blogs