News / Europe

Kerry Urges Russia to Help Implement Ukraine Agreement

Pro-Russian armed men walk past activists hanging up a
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 Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More