News / Europe

    Pro-Russia Separatists Seize More Ukraine Buildings

    Pro-Russian armed men take cover behind a car near the local police headquarters in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    Pro-Russian armed men take cover behind a car near the local police headquarters in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    VOA News
    Hundreds of pro-Russian separatists overran more Ukrainian government buildings near the Russian border Tuesday, seizing a prosecutor's office in Luhansk and attacking a police station with clubs and automatic weapons.

    Local authorities say police did not offer resistance, and witnesses say gunmen raised a separatist flag over government headquarters in the city of 450,000 residents.

    The takeover appears to give pro-Moscow rebels control of a second provincial capital in the east, after separatists seized control of Donetsk Monday and set a referendum on secession for May 11.  A similar vote last month led to Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

    The government in Kyiv has all but lost control of its police forces in parts of eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian activists have seized buildings in the region's second biggest city of Donetsk and several smaller towns.
       
    • Pro-Russian activists storm an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, one of the largest cities in Ukraine's troubled east, April 29, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian activists storm an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, further raising tensions in the east, where insurgents have seized control of police stations and other government buildings in at least 10 cities and towns.
    • Pro-Russian activists storm an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian activists trample a Ukraine flag as other celebrate the capture of an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    • A group of Ukrainian police officers leave the administration building which has been captured by Pro-Russian activists in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    • A Pro-Russian activist waves a Donbas Republic flag over a crowd celebrating the capture of an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian activists inside the regional government headquarters in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 29, 2014. Hundreds of pro-Russian separatists stormed the headquarters on Tuesday, unopposed by police.
    • Pro-Russian supporters gather outside the regional government headquarters in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 29, 2014. Hundreds of pro-Russian separatists stormed the headquarters on Tuesday, taking over the building.

    "The regional leadership does not control its police force,'' said Stanislav Rechynsky, an aide to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. "The local police did nothing.''

    Meanwhile, Hennady Kernes, the mayor of eastern Ukraine's biggest city, Kharkiv, was in a stable condition on Tuesday in a hospital in Israel, where he was flown after an apparent assassination attempt.

    US, EU sanctions

    U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Tuesday that international sanctions imposed on Russia are putting pressure on the country's economy, and that more actions may be taken if Moscow's behavior does not change.
           
    "You have to look over the period of time Russia went into Crimea, since we've imposed sanctions, there has been a quite substantial deterioration in Russia's already weak economy," Lew told a U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee hearing. "We see it in their stock exchange, we see it in their exchange rate, we see it in a number of important economic indicators.''

    Lew said the United States is keeping its options open and is prepared to take further action if Russian policy toward Ukraine doesn't change.

    The European Union Tuesday announced asset freezes and travel bans on 15 Russians and Ukrainians over Moscow's actions in Ukraine, but the measures were seen as less aggressive than sanctions imposed this week by the United States

    While visiting Cuba Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov slammed U.S. and European Union sanctions, saying they defied common sense and were the work of weak politicians in the West "attempting to blame others."

    Putin on sanctions
     

    President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia sees no need for counter-sanctions against the West, but could reconsider the participation of Western companies in its economy, including energy projects, if sanctions continued.

    “We would very much wish not to resort to any measures in response,” he told reporters after meeting leaders of Belarus and Kazakhstan in Minsk.

    “But if something like that continues, we will of course have to think about who is working in the key sectors of the Russian economy, including the energy sector, and how,” added Putin.

    Putin reiterated his accusations that the United States was orchestrating the Ukraine crisis.

    Intercepted calls

    Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States has recordings proving that Moscow is running a network of spies inside eastern Ukraine, reports The Daily Beast which says it obtained a recording of a closed-door meeting attended by the U.S. top diplomat.

    “We know exactly who’s giving those orders, we know where they are coming from,” Kerry reportedly said at a private meeting of the Trilateral Commission in Washington.

    Kerry, according to The Daily Beast, didn’t name specific Russian officials implicated but claimed that the intercepts provided proof of Moscow deliberately fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine - and lying about it to U.S. officials and the public.

    “This is insulting to everybody’s intelligence, let alone to our notions about how we ought to be behaving in the 21st century. It’s thuggism, it’s rogue state-ism. It’s the worst order of behavior,” Kerry reportedly said.

    Status of OSCE monitors

    In separatist-held Slovyansk, the self-declared mayor said he would discuss the release of detained military observers only if the European Union dropped sanctions against rebel leaders.

    But later in the day, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov said "good progress" had been made in talks with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on the release of seven of its observers held since Friday. The observers had travelled to eastern Ukraine under the auspices of the democracy watchdog.
     

    Troops on border

    Meanwhile, there is no visible sign of any sizeable troop movements away from Ukraine's border where Moscow deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and hardware, a NATO official said Tuesday.

    In a phone call Monday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Russian forces, which he said started drills near the border last week, had returned to their permanent positions, according to the Russian government.

    "We currently have no information that indicates a  withdrawal of Russian troops from the Ukrainian border. We continue to urge Russia to abide by the Geneva agreement and to pull back all its troops along the Ukrainian border in favor of diplomacy and dialogue,'' a NATO official told Reuters. 

    Some information for this report contributed by AP and Reuters.
    Error rendering storify.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Eduardo Linares-Batres from: Guatemala
    April 29, 2014 10:22 AM
    They must be laughing again at the Kremlin. Sanctions against individuals for actions taken as a nation? The only valid opposition which a non-democratic, putinesque Russia/USSR-2 will respect is serious, wide-ranging economic boycott; unless the EU stops buying Russian hydrocarbons, it will not “get the message,” and Europe is too compromised by its leftists to be able to do that. Expect other bordering nations to be taken back into the USSR-2’s fold.
         

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora