News / Europe

US: Russia Responsible for Evacuating Pro-Russian Militants From Ukrainian Buildings

Ukraine Protesters Defy Joint Call to Disarmi
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Henry Ridgwell
April 18, 2014 4:07 PM
Pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine are refusing to leave their barricades despite demands from all sides for them to leave state buildings. The United States, Russia, the European Union and Ukraine issued a joint statement at talks in Geneva Thursday calling for all illegal armed groups to be disarmed and all seized buildings to be vacated. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Related video report by Henry Ridgwell

VOA News
The United States says Russia has a "responsibility" to call on pro-Russian militants occupying government buildings in eastern Ukraine to evacuate.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday that if Russia does not take steps to de-escalate the situation and implement Thursday's deal with Ukraine, aimed at lowering tensions, there will be "consequences."

Militant leader Denis Pushilin said earlier that his men are not bound by the deal and will only stand down after the Ukrainian government resigns.
 
Denis Pushilin, foreground center, spokesman of the self-appointed Donetsk People’s Republic, speaks to reporters inside the regional administration building seized earlier in Donetsk, Ukraine, April 18, 2014.Denis Pushilin, foreground center, spokesman of the self-appointed Donetsk People’s Republic, speaks to reporters inside the regional administration building seized earlier in Donetsk, Ukraine, April 18, 2014.
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Denis Pushilin, foreground center, spokesman of the self-appointed Donetsk People’s Republic, speaks to reporters inside the regional administration building seized earlier in Donetsk, Ukraine, April 18, 2014.
Denis Pushilin, foreground center, spokesman of the self-appointed Donetsk People’s Republic, speaks to reporters inside the regional administration building seized earlier in Donetsk, Ukraine, April 18, 2014.
Psaki said the U.S. rejects those comments and the separatists' claim that the new Ukrainian government took power in a coup.

Thursday's agreement followed talks between Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the European Union. It calls for all government buildings to be evacuated and for the militants to be disarmed.

But it includes few concrete measures for ending the crisis, and many Western leaders are skeptical about Russia holding up its end of the bargain.

Psaki told reporters Friday the U.S. believes Russia has the influence and ability to implement the accord, noting what she described as a "clear and strong connection" between the separatists and Russia. But she said the U.S. is "clear-eyed" about Russia's record of not implementing steps in the past and will test over the coming days whether Russia will follow through this time.

Meawhile pro-Russian separatists are still ignoring the Geneva agreement.

Outside the regional administrative headquarters in Donetsk, music blared Friday as Russian flags flapped in the breeze.

Inside, the self-declared leader of the pro-Russian separatists, Denis Pushilin, dismissed efforts to get him and his followers to leave.

"Russia's foreign minister didn't sign for us, he signed for the Russian Federation," Pushilin told journalists.

In Kyiv, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia warned time was running out.
 
"If this will not start in a few days I think that after the Easter there will be more concrete actions," he said.

The Ukrainian government warned on Friday it could take "more concrete actions'' next week if pro-Russian separatists do not end their occupations of public buildings under the terms of an international accord.

Ukraine's acting president and prime minister on Friday issued a strong pledge to eastern Ukrainians; promising to support constitutional change, and decentralize power to local councils - allowing them to conduct business in Russian - a central demand of the separatists.

The comments by Oleksander Turchinov and Arseniy Yatsenyuk came in a joint televised address to the nation.

Earlier Friday militant leader Denis Pushilin said his men were not bound by Thursday's Geneva deal and would only stand down after the Ukrainian government resigns.

The agreement followed talks between Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the European Union, and called for all government buildings to be evacuated and for the militants to be disarmed.

Obama threatens more sanctions

U.S. President Barack Obama said Washington will continue preparing sanctions against Russia in case it does not take steps to de-escalate the situation.

"We are coordinating now with our European allies," the president said. "My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days but I don't think given past performance that we can count on that. And we have to be prepared to potentially respond to what continue to be efforts of interference by the Russians."

The White House national security advisor, Susan Rice, told reporters Friday that the U.S. has been clear that it and its European partners "remain ready to impose additional costs on Russia" if it fails to meet its obligations.

She said "in the event of a dramatic escalation," such as the movement of troops, those costs and sanctions could include targeting what she called "very significant sectors" of the Russian economy.

On Friday Russia criticized the sanctions threat calling it "completely unacceptable." A statement from the foreign ministry said U.S. officials were trying to "whitewash" what it called Kyiv's use of force against protestors in Ukraine's eastern provinces.

Analysts say the prospect of more sanctions is already hurting the Russian economy.  Moscow warned this week its economy might show zero percent growth this year due to the crisis.

But many global companies are lobbying against sanctions, according to Ben Kumar, a analyst at London investment management firm 7IM.

"You have this globalization now which means that everyone is linked to everyone else," he explained. "Companies like BP - all the major energy companies are so multinational that if you start to threaten to shut down trade links they will kick up a fuss."

The West is backing threats of sanctions with a show of military force. Canada is sending six fighter planes to the region to help bolster NATO defenses.
NATO has ruled out military intervention, but says the deployment is aimed at reassuring allies in eastern Europe.

Amnesty

A joint statement from the four powers says amnesty will be granted to protesters who surrender weapons and leave the buildings, except for those found guilty of capital crimes.
 
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, speaks to lawmakers during a session at the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv.Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, speaks to lawmakers during a session at the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv.
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Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, speaks to lawmakers during a session at the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, speaks to lawmakers during a session at the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told parliament Friday that he would abide by the amnesty deal.

"I would like to mention that the government of Ukraine has already prepared a bill on amnesty," he said. "If people who illegally took weapons and captured buildings lay down weapons and release these buildings, we think that these people should be granted amnesty."

The seven-paragraph agreement does not specifically require Moscow to withdraw 40,000 troops massed on its border with Ukraine, and does not reference Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula last month. It also does not obligate Moscow to hold direct talks with the interim government in Kyiv.

However, the four-party statement says monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will immediately begin to put the de-escalation measures into place.

National dialogue
 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks to media after talks on the situation in Ukraine in Geneva April 17, 2014.Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks to media after talks on the situation in Ukraine in Geneva April 17, 2014.
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks to media after talks on the situation in Ukraine in Geneva April 17, 2014.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks to media after talks on the situation in Ukraine in Geneva April 17, 2014.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke separately following the Geneva talks, saying the four parties will work to establish a broad national dialogue to ensure protection of Ukrainians' rights.

"We have no wish to put our armed troops in Ukraine, on the territory of a friendly state, on the territory where our brothers live. This goes against the core interests of the Russian Federation."

Moscow has repeatedly insisted it has the right to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine. It accuses the new Ukrainian leadership of being anti-Russian and anti-Semitic, and of threatening the rights of pro-Russians.

Pro-Russian gunmen have seized Ukrainian government buildings in nearly a dozen eastern towns and cities, while Ukrainian troops have launched operations to retake the buildings. It remains unclear how much actual fighting has taken place.

“What will happen in Ukraine is not clear. Short of a Russian invasion, Moscow seems to want decentralization,” said Evelyn Leopold, a long-time former United Nations bureau chief for Reuters news agency, and currently a contributor for Huffington Post.

“What that means is also not clear yet as the devil will be in the proverbial detail," she said.

Henry Ridgwell contributed to this report from London and Catherine Maddux with Jeff Seldin from Washington. Additional material was provided by Reuters

 

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by: Jack C from: USA
April 25, 2014 7:30 PM
If Europe wants stability, Ukraine must be protected by NATO,
If Europe really wants stability, then they must allow those countries that desire to join NATO to be allowed to become members providing they adhere to the NATO doctrine of a democratic society through fair elections and democratic values. This is not a country club with exclusive membership that only the elite can join, is based on certain values that must be upheld and enforced through a democratic process of self governing. The basic rules are that each country must prove that they are a democratic governing body which is freely elected to represent its citizens and has equal rights for all of its citizens under its constitution, as was decided and established after WWII. The ousted Ukraine regime was in no way a freely elected representative of the population of Ukraine. It was a puppet regime put in place by Mr.Putin and under his strict control. That's why when democracy reared its ugly head, the old regime high tailed it back to Mr.Putin for protection. The new government has show great restraint in dealing with Russia, great progress in modifying its constitution to incorporate all citizens within its boundaries, strong leadership through democracy and great restraint in not targeting ethnic groups within the country, including legitimate pro-russian citizens. Those Russians that have infiltrated the country under the pretext of causing an uprising or revolution, are not Ukraine citizens. RUSSIA, on the other hand has done everything imaginable to cause internal conflicts within the Ukraine government, yet they have held to their democratic reliefs and refrained from the previous corrupt ways of the old regime. NATO has to establish some type of protective umbrella which allows future NATO member countries to survive aggression as seen by Russia today. NATO cannot and should not look the other way as Russia INVADES Ukraine by only a few well placed infiltrators or an entire army to conquer Ukraine, it's still an invasion by Russia. NATO must respond to Russia's actions. In ending, their are three countries waiting to join NATO, Macedonia, Ukraine and Georgia. These countries know the hell that takes place under Russia.'s influence and corruption. Let them join now and send Putin a very clear message.
An AMERICAN's point of view
Jack C


by: Jack C from: USA
April 22, 2014 1:42 PM
The US and European Union lack responsiveness,
The US government has shown absolutely no leadership in the Ukraine crisis. Mr.Putin is calling the shots and our government stands around looking like a bunch of mental patients on tranquilizers. Where are those harsh financial sanctions which we keep saying are in America's tool chest, which it appears the US is reluctant to use for fear it will hurt the US and European economy. The European Union is pretty much in the same position. You all keep telling Russia to stop its aggression, but not one country has done anything regarding those tough sanctions. Why? Are we all waiting for Putin to invade Ukraine and a civil war to erupt, and then implement those tough sanctions we all keep talking about. By that time, Ukraine will be annexed by Russia and Ukraine's current government will be exiled to who knows where by Mr.Putin and the Russian government under their protection act for Russian speaking citizens. GEE! I wonder how many people in Europe and America speak Russian and will need saving?

Sorry Mr.Obama, the game is just about over in Europe and your skipping around Asia. The European Union is no better then America, none of you are implementing those tough sanctions you keep saying are coming. I'll believe it when I see it. Their sort of like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, mythical and mystical beliefs that we were told about as kids, but we know as adults what they really are. Are these tough sanctions even real? If you need a list of companies, I've listed some below to help get you guys started. The first Company is Gazprom, which should be at the top of the list. Let's see if Putin can feed his people oil and gas to sustain them in the coming months.

Russian Companies to Sanction,

"Gazprom", Aeroflot-Russian Airlines, PhosAgro, Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel, X5 Retail Group, Nomos Bank, Alrosa, UC Rusal, Mechel, Uralkali, Federal Grid of UES, IDGC Holding, Sistema, Magnit, Severstal, Novolipetsk Steel, RusHydro, MegaFon, Inter Rao, Rostelecom, Novatek, Transneft, Tatneft, Norilsk Nickel, VTB Bank, Surgutneftegas, TNK-BP Holding, Lukoil, Sberbank, Rosneft.

Jack C.


by: Jack C from: USA
April 19, 2014 11:47 PM
To The Ukraine People,
It's sad that those few pro-Russians that are armed to the hilt have silenced the voice of the majority of the Ukraine population. Because the news media wants to have stories that are sensationalized to draw world attention, the 80% of the population that are your normal everyday hard working citizens are ignored or just totally overlooked by the news media. Sadly, this is the way of the world today. As an AMERICAN, I am interested in knowing just how the average Ukraine citizen feels about what's happening in your whole country, not small sections that don't represent the majority. If any of you have the ability to get your voices herd via posting or emailing to news agencies, then please, do so to help people throughout the world understand exactly how the law abiding citizens feel about what's taking place in your country. I see so many sites were the posting are from one loud mouth trying to control the posting site by bombarding it with vicious attacks that are so one sided, it skews what the majority view really is in Ukraine. Mr.Putin's propaganda machine is cranking out so much bull xxx, that I don't even care to read anything from a Russian media source. So please Ukraine citizen's, speak up and let your voices be heard.
An AMERICAN's point of view.
Jack C.


by: AAR from: Global
April 19, 2014 7:52 PM
Ukraine home of the world renowned "Cossacks" has always been the crossroads of East vs West and North vs South, history speaks of the Russian fear of a strong Ukraine and Poland...Russia will not refrain from interfering in Ukraine politics and culture....post WWII agreements (still on the books) state Ukraine is not to have a "Fascist" government...Western governments share in collective responsibilty along with Russia for the current conflicts and events....future outcomes cannot be assured when it comes to Ukraine due to the numerous atrocities and old grudges that are ongoing.....WWII left many suprising and shocking events unresolved with open wounds....expect extreme turbulence ahead.........


by: Anonymous
April 19, 2014 5:56 AM
Yes. It is up to Russia to tell the people that "Speak" Russian IN Ukraine that they best be on their best behaviour in SOMEONE ELSE'S country and not to give Russia a bad name by resorting to violence thinking mother Russia is going to back them. Any steps for Russia to go inside Ukraine would most obviously be a criminal act by the order of their President.

In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
April 19, 2014 12:09 PM
Don't forget it was the interim government started violence first to oust the legitimate president.
Eastern Ukraine is copying the same action.


by: David from: Ramirez
April 18, 2014 8:54 PM
All the Ukrainians have to do is surround the buildings cut off all water and food and they will surrender sooner or later

In Response

by: Anon from: UK
April 19, 2014 5:34 AM
Yeah, great idea.
The only issue is the current Ukrainian "Government" grabbed the power by government building confiscations. If the previous coupled Ukrainian government tried anything like this the US started to cry wolf, because the human right of the protester violated :D
But of course the supporters of the elected government can't considered as humans, as I understand from your worlds.They are supporters of a democratic, not US friendly system and these has to be wiped out :)


by: Anonymous
April 18, 2014 4:56 PM
If these gunmen do not leave the premises the Ukrainian Government should blow them all up and build new ones. Diplomatic is how things should be resolved but if these terrorists from mother russia want to bring guns into the war they were warned. This would eliminate the bastards that think using guns is going to get them anywhere. Pen and paper is how wars end.

In Response

by: Jack C from: USA
April 19, 2014 5:28 PM
Only idiots go to war,
Today, much more damage can be inflicted upon a country without killing its innocent citizen as a result of a few bastards within their government. The best approach is to devistate their economy through sanctions that financially cripple a country on a global scale. This requires about 80% of the countries in the world to turn off trade, turn off exports and stop all transactions related to loans or bond sales. Since Russia has destroyed it's industrial capabilities, it would be almost impossible to manufacture, grow or process enough goods to keep all of her people fed and supplied with necessities for every day life without imports or very strict rationing. The remaining friendly supporting nations supplying them with goods, will soon find out that isolation is a bitch when your targeted as assisting them and the world's starts to retract its support and trade as a result of your actions.
Theirs no reason whatsoever to use military action, unless you are being attacked. Then it would be for defense only. Global sanctions will take a horrible toll on the countries population over a period of time, which will result in turning your military around to start killing your own citizens as they revolt, and their are very few countries who's military will kill their own citizens in this type of situation.
IMPLEMENT STRONG SANCTIONS
Jack C

In Response

by: anon from: uk
April 19, 2014 5:39 AM
the current Ukrainian government garbed the power by the same way.
The current government is NOT elected - they simply forced out the government with the support of the US and few powerful oligarch .
This is the reason of the riots in east. Due to the new elected government the level of living dropped dramatically, and there is no end .It is just the beginning of the riots in Ukraine, and soon the west part of the country will join as well, because they plan to cut to half the pensions and the salary of the government employees , and to increase double fold the price of the gas and energy.


by: WirelessIQ from: California
April 18, 2014 3:51 PM
Reagan had the right strategy with the Russians. Beat them economically. Put our energy industry on a war-like footing and ramp up our LNG and petroleum exports to the EU to steal the business from Russia and cut off their income from the EU. The US and Canada have the resources and an all-out effort would likely mean we can accomplish it all at a profit which beats expending our blood and treasure. Energy exports are the key source of income for Russia and we could likely bring them to their knees in less than a decade.

In Response

by: Jack C from: USA
April 20, 2014 1:25 PM
What caused the CCCP/USSR to disband,
This happened as a direct result of them falling behind in the industrialized world in which technology past them right by as they refrained from implementing changes to invest in their infrastructures and the corrupt few in power drained the cash reserves of the country and left nothing for investing into the future of the CCCP/USSR. As a result, it's people revolted an demanded more freedom and a better standard of living, which eventually ended with the breakup of the CCCP/USSR. Now all of the former members that broke free have become very Industrialized nations and are reluctant to turn back time to those horrible years. Those few pro-russian throw backs, are the type which were unable to make that adjustment and prefer the type of system were they are basically told were to live and work by the government and are perfectly happy with this type of life. They have a low standard of living that will not change as long as it's being controlled by the government. For those pro-russians, this is their security blanket and their content with this arrangement. Those that live in an industrialized nation prefer to work towards obtaining a better standard of living, acquiring wealth through hard work and having significant freedom which they were deprived of under the CCCP/USSR.
An AMERICAN's point of view
Jack C.

In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
April 19, 2014 2:40 AM
Funny, last time they asked China don't buy oil from Iran, how did the work out?
Yes, China buy oil and gas from Canada, May be a bit from America, but we can use that as a card to ask a low price for Russian gas, lol , we enjoy the fight between Russia and the west, so we China can benefit from both side. Lol

In Response

by: WirelessIQ from: California
April 18, 2014 6:49 PM
Wouldn't be too concerned over China gas deal. China would much rather buy gas from US & Canada as we are a much stronger trade partners, a fact the Chinese understand well.

In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
April 18, 2014 5:57 PM
Russia China just sighed a natural gas deal, 30% gas now is going to China. And I am sure China can buy all gas goes to Europe.


by: Anonymous
April 18, 2014 3:30 PM
It is Ukraine, an independent country, Russia has no business sticking their nose up there... Doesn't matter if there is an entire USA State that speaks Russian, no different, you don't invade or cause turmoil in other countries.

Putin should not only be charged by the International Criminal Courts, he out to be ousted from Russian Government because of what he has done for the past several years. His stupid actions only harm the Russian people.


by: Les Dittrich
April 18, 2014 3:26 PM
I don't think that the pro-federalists are going to leave any buildings. I don't think the Russians can force them to leave from a distance.
They will leave once they get their referendum or the Kiev government manage to persuade their military to kick them out by force. The Ukraine's future is as a federation because the eastern Ukraine and western Ukraine don't trust each other, especially after the behaviour of the current government.

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