News / Europe

Putin Vows to Recognize Ukraine Presidential Vote

Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2014 in St. Petersburg, Russia, May 23, 2014.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2014 in St. Petersburg, Russia, May 23, 2014.
VOA News
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to recognize the outcome of Sunday's presidential election in Ukraine, while voicing hope that Ukraine's new president will end military operations against separatists in the east.

Putin spoke Friday in St. Petersburg, as pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine ambushed a Ukrainian militia group near the Russian border, killing at least two Ukrainian volunteers and wounding nine others. Thirteen government troops were killed by separatists in the same area Thursday, raising fears of fresh violence in the runup to Sunday's vote.

Hours after Putin's comments, the U.S. State Department called on Moscow to pressure armed pro-Russian separatists in eastern cities to "cease their violent activities and lay down their arms" ahead of the voting. Spokeswoman Marie Harf also cited instances of missing ballot boxes and seized voter registration lists in the east as impediments to successful polls.

For its part, the interim Kyiv government has promised to halt anti-separatist operations to accommodate Sunday's vote, which is widely seen as the most important election since Ukraine gained independence with the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Some analysts are interpreting the Russian president's comments as a sign the Kremlin is attempting to avoid more Western sanctions first imposed when Russian lawmakers voted to annex Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March.

Watch related video report by Al Pessin in Kyiv
 
Key Election in Ukraine Amid Attacksi
X
Al Pessin
May 23, 2014 9:44 PM
Ukrainians will vote Sunday for a new president to replace Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted in February. Many people hope that having an elected leader will go a long way toward easing tensions with Russia and the separatists it supports in Eastern Ukraine. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.

In his comments, Putin voiced optimism about resolving the crisis in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, saying that doing so would improve relations with the United States. He also acknowledged that several rounds of increasingly strong U.S. sanctions since the Crimea annexation are having a negative impact on Russian commerce.

In Kyiv on Friday, interim President Oleksandr Turchynov urged all voters to participate in Sunday's ballot - a vote he said will "cement the foundation of our nation." However, it remained unclear whether any voting will take place in eastern cities where separatists have seized buildings and declared autonomous zones free of Ukrainian rule.

Twenty-one candidates are competing to become Ukraine's next president. Polls show billionaire candymaker Petro Poroshenko with a commanding lead, but falling just short of the absolute majority needed to claim a first round win.

Pentagon's concerns

Meanwhile, speaking about Russian military forces, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said, "We have seen continued activity of preparations for departure of some units, not all. We have seen the movement of some units, not all.  And I would remind you that there still remains a very sizable force along that border [with Ukraine], tens of thousand of soldiers still remain. While we do see some movement, it's too soon for us to say that this is the wholesale withdrawal that President Putin had ordered.

"There are still tens of thousands of troops there and their presence alone just continues to escalate the tensions in that part of Ukraine and it's unhelpful. It is unproductive. It is not necessary. And nothing has changed about Secretary Hagel's desire to see those troops leave," he said.

Kirby added additional concerns. "We still believe, we’ve said this and maintained this, that there are forces controlled by Moscow, by the Russian military inside Ukraine and they remain there. We think the Ukrainian armed forces have shown both great restraint and they have shown courage in trying to restore law and order inside their borders," he said.
 
  • A car wash is seen after it was destroyed by shelling from Ukrainian government forces in Slovyansk, Ukraine, May 23, 2014.
  • A local looks at a damaged vehicle following a gun battle in the rural settlement of Karlovka, west of Donetsk, Ukraine, May 23, 2014.
  • People walk next to an armoured vehicle left as a monument at the Independence Square, Kyiv, May 23, 2014.
  • A woman takes a picture of an armoured vehicle in Independence Square, Kyiv, May 23, 2014.
  • A pro-Russian man with a black and orange ribbon of St. George attached to his weapon stands in Slovyansk, Ukraine, May 23, 2014.
  • Oleh Lyashko, leader of Ukrainian Radical Party and presidential candidate, speaks to self-defense volunteers at a training ground outside Kyiv, May 23, 2014.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: rebeca from: Italy
May 24, 2014 5:33 AM
It's obvious that by buying Russia's gas we give money to the country that can war against us. We contribute to our undoing. We must stop purchasing Russia's gas and oil !!!!

by: Freeman from: Earth
May 23, 2014 7:08 PM
Once they (Ukraine) pay there gas bill.And if that is recognized.The rest will come easy.Follow the money to find the funny!Peace.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs