News / Europe

    Kerry Urges Russia to Help Implement Ukraine Agreement

    Pro-Russian armed men walk past activists hanging up a "Donetsk Republic" flag outside the mayor's office in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, April 21, 2014.
    Pro-Russian armed men walk past activists hanging up a "Donetsk Republic" flag outside the mayor's office in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, April 21, 2014.
    VOA News
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russia on Monday to meet Ukraine halfway in trying to implement an agreement to defuse the crisis in the former Soviet republic.

    Kerry spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by telephone on Monday morning, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Russia, Ukraine, the European Union and the United States on Thursday agreed on ways to ease tensions in the worst confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

    “The secretary urged Russia to take concrete steps to help implement the Geneva agreement, including publicly calling on separatists to vacate illegal buildings and checkpoints, accept amnesty and address their grievances politically,” Psaki said at a news briefing.

    Lavrov, meanwhile, blamed authorities in Kyiv for the unrest in the Ukraine’s east, calling them “unable or unwilling” to put an end to violence perpetrated by nationalist extremists, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said.

    With pro-Moscow separatists showing no sign of surrendering government buildings they have seized in eastern Ukraine, Washington pegged a threat of new sanctions on Russia to how hard Moscow tries to make the Geneva agreement work.

    ‘Further costs’ for Moscow

    If progress is not made in coming days, we will impose further costs,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

    The Geneva agreement calls for occupied buildings to be vacated under the auspices of envoys from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

    Kerry called on Russia to assign a senior diplomat to work with the OSCE mission in eastern Ukraine, Psaki said, “to make absolutely clear to the separatists that Russia supports the agreement and wants de-escalation.”

    “The secretary also made clear that Russia's recent public statement casting doubt on Ukraine's commitment to the Geneva agreement flies in the face of the facts,” Psaki said.

    Commenting separately on Russia’s accusations, Ukraine’s foreign minister expressed surprise over “Lavrov not being aware of what is happening in Ukraine with regard to the Geneva agreement.”
     
    “We are meeting daily in a quadripartite format, together with the OSCE mission leadership, developing ways of de-escalating the situation in Ukraine’s east,” said Andriy Deshchytsia, according to Ukrainian news agency UNIAN.
     
    He also said he was surprised that Russian diplomats present at these meetings apparently are not reporting back to their Foreign Ministry.

    Watch related video report by VOA's Scott Stearns
     
    Biden in Ukraine as Geneva Deal on Crisis Falteringi
    X
    Scott Stearns
    April 21, 2014 10:04 PM
    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is in Ukraine for talks with government officials -- who Russia is claiming "crudely violate" last week's agreement to de-escalate the crisis. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports that agreement to avert wider conflict is faltering -- with pro-Moscow separatist gunmen showing no sign of backing down.

    Biden in Ukraine

    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is in Ukraine for talks on the crisis with the acting president and prime minister.

    Biden's two-day trip to Kyiv, the highest level visit from a U.S. official since the start of the crisis, was born out of discussions with President Barack Obama, said an administration official briefing reporters on Biden’s plane.

    “[Vice President Biden] wanted to come to Kyiv to send a very clear message
     of the United States' support for Ukraine's democracy, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the official.
     
    • A Ukrainian police officer stands guard at a checkpoint that was attacked by unknown men outside the Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine, April 25, 2014.
    • A pro-Russian armed man smokes as he guards near the mayor's office in Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 25, 2014.
    • A Ukrainian soldier sits atop of his armored vehicle at a check point near the village of Artemiovska, near Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 24, 2014.
    • Ukrainian security force officers are deployed at a checkpoint set on fire and left by pro-Russian separatists near Slovyansk, April 24, 2014.
    • A Pro-Russian supporter walks at the seized office of the SBU state security service in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 24, 2014.
    • Municipal workers take a break from taking down barricades in central Kyiv, April 23, 2014.
    • Members of Maidan self-defense forces march along the street in central Kyiv, April 23, 2014.
    • Ukrainian presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko speaks during a briefing in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine April 24, 2014.
    • People carry the coffin of local politician Volodymyr Rybak, allegedly tortured and killed by pro-Russia separatists, during his funeral in the village of Horlivka, in eastern Ukraine, April 24, 2014.
    • People carry coffins containing the bodies of men killed in a gunfight on April 20, during a funeral ceremony in Slovyansk, April 22, 2014.
    • A pro-Russian armed man stands guard outside a regional government building seized by the pro-Russians, in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, April 22, 2014.

    “He will call for urgent implementation of the agreement reached in Geneva last week while also making clear ... that there will be mounting costs for Russia if they choose a destabilizing rather than constructive course in the days ahead,” the official said.

    White House officials earlier said Biden will discuss the international community's efforts to help Ukraine move forward on constitutional reform, and for what Obama administration officials say will be a free and fair presidential election on May 25.

    In addition, Biden is to announce new economic and energy-related technical assistance for Ukraine during his visit, said an administration official.

    Pentagon boosts Europe training

    Meanwhile, Pentagon officials are saying that details are being worked out for more training with eastern and central European allies.

    Some of the training exercises would be via NATO, others conducted on a bilateral basis, Pentagon officials said at a briefing, adding that all options would "include some level of ground force."

    Officials also said that the U.S.is not seeing any substantial troop movements by Russians forces away from Ukraine's border.

    Putin decree

    Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday to rehabilitate Crimea's Tatars and other minorities who suffered under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, courting a group that largely opposed Moscow's annexation of the region from Ukraine.
     
    Stalin deported Crimean Tatars to Central Asia en masse during World War Two, accusing them of sympathizing with Nazi Germany, and many died in grueling conditions on arrival in exile.
     
    The Muslim Tatars were allowed to return in the waning days of the Soviet Union, whose 1991 collapse left Crimea in an independent Ukraine. They now make up 12 percent of the Crimea peninsula's mostly ethnic Russian population of 2 million.
     
    Many of them boycotted the March 16 referendum in Crimea, which Russia used as a pretext to annex the peninsula, sparking the biggest crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

    OSCE mediator meets separatist leader

    The senior mediator from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe in eastern Ukraine held his first talks on Monday with the leader of pro-Russian separatists in the city of Slovyansk, a flashpoint of the crisis.
     
    Mark Etherington told reporters he met the self-declared, separatist mayor, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, for two hours. He had asked whether Ponomaryov and his group would comply with last week's Geneva accord under which Russia and Ukraine agreed that militants should disarm and vacate occupied public buildings.
     
    Etherington did not say how the separatist leader responded or give further details. He said he also asked about people who had been detained in Slovyansk, including the previous mayor, about reports of maltreatment of the Roma minority and about a gunfight on Sunday in which at least three men were killed.

    VOA's Jeff Seldin contributed to this story; some reporting by Reuters
     

    You May Like

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves in Landmark Discovery

    Researchers likened discovery to difference between looking at piece of music on paper and then hearing it in real life

    Prince Ali: FIFA Politics Affected International Fixtures

    Some countries faced unfavorable treatment for not toeing political line inside soccer world body, Jordanian candidate to head FIFA says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.