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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora