News / Europe

Obama, Merkel Warn Russia on Ukraine

Obama, Merkel Threaten Tougher Sanctions On Russiai
Kent Klein
May 02, 2014 8:55 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are threatening tougher sanctions against Russia if it does not stop its alleged military operations in Ukraine. As VOA's Kent Klein reports, the two leaders discussed further steps against the Kremlin when they met Friday at the White House.
Related video report by VOA's Kent Klein
VOA News
If Moscow continues fueling unrest in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin and others in his leadership circle will face increasingly broad sanctions, U.S. President Barack Obama warned on Friday.  

Appearing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint news conference in the White House Rose Garden, Obama praised her for being a strong partner on Ukraine.

The two nations, he said, “are united in our unwavering support for Ukraine.”

Any Russian attempts to interfere with Ukraine's May 25 presidential election would prompt new pressure on Russia's energy sector, Obama said. Ukraine's parliament had voted in February to remove Victor Yanukovych as the country's leader.
Both Obama and Merkel said they want to see a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. Otherwise, Putin and others involved in destabilizing Ukraine “will face increasing costs as well as growing isolation,” Obama said.

Sanctions, imposed in March after Russia annexed Crimea, were expanded April 28. They include visa bans and the freezing of any U.S. assets for nearly 50 political and business allies of Putin.

New violence involving pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine suggests the measures are not curbing the Kremlin.

Obama also urged Moscow to press pro-Russia militants to free the seven military observers taken hostage last weekend. Continued detention of the observers, from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, is "disgraceful" and "inexcusable," Obama said. 

During meetings Friday, the two leaders were to discuss the National Security Agency's spy program, which targeted Merkel's phone conversations and caused tension between the two allies. Since then, "we've tried to reform what we do," Obama said at the news conference, emphasizing the continued need to balance privacy and security concerns.

Merkel and Obama said they were united in the goals of supporting Ukraine and of penalizing Russian leaders for fomenting unrest there.

"We're united in our support for Ukraine, including the very important IMF program approved this week," Obama said. The International Monetary Fund announced a $17 billion, two-year aid package to the besieged country.

Obama promised "sectoral sanctions" on Russia if Moscow disrupted plans for Ukraine's election. The energy and banking sectors, plus military arms sales, are among the most likely targets.    

Some of Germany’s largest businesses have voiced strong opposition to broader sanctions against Russia, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

They include Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen, Adidas, chemical giant BASF and engineering and electronics conglomerate Siemens, all with operations in Russia.

Getting  Europe to agree to tougher sanctions has been a challenge for Obama.  Some European nations have tight economic ties to Russia and many of them depend heavily on Russian oil and gas imports.
Moscow has indicated it is willing to use its gas supplies as leverage in the dispute over Ukraine. Russia has substantially raised the price of gas to Ukraine and threatened to reduce the amount it supplies.  
In their conversations Friday, Obama and Merkel discussed the need for Europe to diversify its energy sources.

At the news conference, Merkel called for support of the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would ease trade restrictions between the U.S. and Europe.

"We are firmly convinced this offers a lot of opportunities" to trade partners, Merkel said.

She later addressed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce concerning the strength of the German-American relationship and trans-Atlantic trade.  
VOA White House reporter Luis Ramirez and Reuters contributed to this report.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Borenasa from: Ghana
May 02, 2014 1:48 PM
America n it's allies are very selective when it comes to global security. I believe if what is happening in ukraine was to in africa or the arab world, they would have called for a UN security council resolution to go n fight there. i can't imagine why they applying economic sanctions. i challenge france to go and apply their tactics on tuareg rebels in mali on these separatist in ukraine. only in africa that france boast that they are men to the extend of overthrowing n capturing sitting presidents(gbagbo). i want to see france in ukraine

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
May 02, 2014 1:48 PM
I watched Obama and Merkel stand in a news conference and declare that sanction is a second option to diplomatic moves. While Merkel stood like she was goaded by Obama to say what she was saying, she displayed an abject incompetence to be head of a stare like Germany which is by all standard a world power both economically and militarily - even if not a declared one. Standing there being directed by Obama to agree to a sanction on a third of German economy is like sentencing a third of its population to some kind of hardship, or asking a third of the country's unemployed labor market to say goodbye forever to the idea of ever finding a job. This is share ineptitude.

I wish the voting public in Germany is watching her and her party and would show them the way out in the next election. For a president who is good at following the footsteps of others without having her own initiative is not good enough for Germany. Maybe she has become too old for the job especially without a most primary constituency - that could call her to some reason. No wonder Europe is drifting for lack of purposeful leadership, if only Merkel could grovel that much to a security ideology that does not even trust her but must spy on her to see how much she's been in pally with the enemies. This is not the way to rebuild the trust, instead it is a betrayal of both trust in her by Germans who have placed their fate in her leadership. It's a disgrace to say the least.

by: melwin from: India
May 02, 2014 12:55 PM
If America and other countries are trying to isolate " RUSSIA" this so that America lack the capability of being a superpower.

by: tui from: Moscow
May 02, 2014 11:47 AM
Nobody will fight with Russia in coming years,but economic sanctions must be tight enough to harm Russia 's economy,so Putin will lose his popularity and will be overthrown.
In Response

by: melwin from: India
May 02, 2014 1:15 PM
LIONS cannot be overthrown You are just a kid

by: meanbill from: USA
May 02, 2014 10:52 AM
The US and NATO has retrained it's military to smaller "quick strike" operations, against much smaller and in weaker country conflicts - (AND?) - doesn't possess the ability for a larger conflict with a country like Russia...
Where would the US and NATO draw their military forces from around the world, and how long would it take to equip and ship them thousands of miles to Ukraine? -- That's the "weakness" of the US and NATO forces, (there's to many hotspots), and they don't have enough military to cover them all..
NATO is outdated, and the US lacks leadership, and it's military is stretched to the breaking point... "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu...
Comments page of 2

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs