World News

Obama Phones Putin About Ukraine

The White House says President Barack Obama has told his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that Moscow's actions in Ukraine are a violation of that country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Officials say the two leaders spoke for an hour on the telephone Thursday. It is their first known direct contact since Saturday, shortly after Russian forces took control in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

The White House says Mr. Obama told the Russian leader there still is a way to resolve the dispute diplomatically. He said this would entail Russian forces moving back to their base in Crimea; the governments of Ukraine and Russia holding direct talks, and international monitors getting access to ensure that the rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine are protected.



Earlier in the day, Mr. Obama said a March 16 referendum decreed by pro-Russian lawmakers on the future of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula violates international law and Ukraine's constitution.

Speaking at the White House Thursday, Mr. Obama said any discussion about Ukraine's future "must include the legitimate government of Ukraine."

As political uncertainty gripped Crimea Thursday, the U.S. president also signed an executive order authorizing sanctions on those found to have stolen assets of the Ukrainian people or to have violated Ukraine's territorial integrity. His order includes visa restrictions and also blocks the transfer from the United States of assets belonging to anyone who has undermined democratic institutions in Ukraine. It does not name targeted individuals.

On Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives voted to provide loan guarantees of $1 billion to Ukraine. It's a fraction of the Ukrainian government's request, but is the first tangible congressional action. The measure now goes to the Senate.

Mr. Obama said the sanctions were imposed in "close coordination" with America's European allies.

"In 2014 we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders," Mr. Obama said.

Earlier, the European Union voted to freeze the assets in Europe held by 18 Ukrainians, including ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, former premier Mykola Azarov and 16 former ministers, businessmen and security chiefs. Mr. Yanukovych's two sons and Mr. Azarov's son also were targeted.

The EU, facing what its leaders say is the the continent's greatest security challenge since the Balkan wars, also is suspending visa talks with Moscow.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs