News / Europe

    Moscow Sends Mixed Messages on Ukraine Aid

    Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) looks at his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovich during a signing ceremony after a meeting of the Russian-Ukrainian Interstate Commission at the Kremlin in Moscow, Dec. 17, 2013.
    Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) looks at his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovich during a signing ceremony after a meeting of the Russian-Ukrainian Interstate Commission at the Kremlin in Moscow, Dec. 17, 2013.
    Reuters
    Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government on Wednesday to honor a $15 billion bailout deal for Ukraine, but a minister suggested the make-up of a new government in Kyiv will determine how quickly the vital aid is dispatched.

    In Kyiv, Ukraine's new interim prime minister promised to try to limit the economic damage inflicted by more than two months of turmoil, and said he expected Russia to disburse a further $2 billion aid installment “very soon”.

    Moscow, however, sent mixed messages on how soon the money which Ukraine urgently needs would arrive.

    Putin repeated a promise he made on Tuesday to provide the aid even if the opposition forms the next government in Kyiv.  “I would ask the government to fulfill all our financial agreements in full,” he said, according to Interfax news agency.

    However, his Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev cast doubt on the timing of the installment. “Our commitment to fulfilling these obligations has been confirmed. As for the schedule and parameters, this is an issue that requires further discussion with our Ukrainian colleagues and consideration of the restructuring of the government,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

    Putin agreed the aid package with Ukraine in December, throwing the ex-Soviet state a lifeline in what the opposition and the West regard as a reward for scrapping plans to sign political and trade deals with the European Union and promising to improve ties with Russia.

    Ukraine has been gripped by mass unrest since President Viktor Yanukovich walked away from the EU deals last November.

    FILE - Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola AzarovFILE - Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov
    x
    FILE - Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov
    FILE - Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov
    Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigned on Tuesday in an attempt to appease the protesters and the opposition, and though his deputy has taken over as acting prime minister it is unclear when a new government will be formed.

    Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of independent Ukraine, stressed the depth of the crisis on Wednesday.

    “The state is on the brink of civil war. We must call what is happening by its proper name. What is happening is revolution because we are talking about an attempt to bring about a change of power,” he told parliament.

    With Yanukovich and loyalist deputies in parliament now making concessions to defuse the crisis and with Azarov, a Russian-born hardliner, gone there had been speculation that Moscow might slow or even halt the stream of aid.

    But acting prime minister Serhiy Arbuzov appeared to have been cheered by Putin's promise on Tuesday to extend the $15 billion in credits and cheaper gas.

    “We have already received the first tranche of $3 billion and expect to receive the second tranche of $2 billion very soon,” he said, chairing his first cabinet meeting. Russian is offering the funds by buying Ukrainian government bonds.

    Back-room talks

    In Kyiv opposition deputies and Yanukovich loyalists were in back-room talks on Wednesday over the wording of a draft law under which protesters detained so far by police would get amnesties.

    Protesters rest behind a barricade in front of riot police in Kyiv, Ukraine, Jan. 28, 2014.Protesters rest behind a barricade in front of riot police in Kyiv, Ukraine, Jan. 28, 2014.
    x
    Protesters rest behind a barricade in front of riot police in Kyiv, Ukraine, Jan. 28, 2014.
    Protesters rest behind a barricade in front of riot police in Kyiv, Ukraine, Jan. 28, 2014.
    Though the unrest began because of Yanukovich's U-turn on policy towards Europe, it has since turned into a mass demonstration, punctuated by violent clashes between radical protesters and police, against perceived misrule and corruption under Yanukovich's leadership.

    Several hundred people camp round-the-clock on Kyiv's Independence Square and along an adjoining thoroughfare, while more radical activists confront police lines at Dynamo football stadium less than half a kilometer away.

    Anti-Yanukovich activists have also stormed into municipal buildings in many other cities across the sprawling country of 46 million. Hundreds of protesters in Kyiv have occupied City Hall and the main agricultural ministry building.

    Opposition leaders, including boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko, were resisting demands by Yanukovich's Regions Party for barricades to be removed from roads and for protesters to leave occupied buildings as a pre-condition for an amnesty for detained activists.

    Klitschko, in a comment which also highlighted the tenuous control the opposition leaders have over sections of the protest movement, said: “For us to simply say to people 'you have done your job, now go home' is now not possible.”

    In a big concession to the opposition and the protest movement, pro-Yanukovich deputies voted on Tuesday to repeal a series of sweeping anti-protest laws which they brought in hastily on Jan. 16 in response to increasingly violent clashes.

    But opposition leaders, who also include former economy minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and nationalist Oleh Tyahnibok, have won a mandate from protesters on the streets to continue to press for further gains from Yanukovich.

    Previous constitution

    The opposition also wants a return to the previous constitution which would represent another significant concession since it would reduce Yanukovich's powers.

    Speculation that Russia might cut the financial lifeline it has offered prompted the Standard & Poors agency to cut  Ukraine's credit rating to CCC+ on Tuesday.

    Arbuzov said the central bank was ensuring stability on the financial markets and he made no mention of any changes to his predecessor's policy of keeping the hryvnia currency pegged close to the dollar and maintaining subsidies for domestic gas - both criticized by the International Monetary Fund.

    The tense situation and talk by some of Yanukovich ministers of a possible state of emergency being declared has caused alarm in the West and Western governments have urged Yanukovich to take all measures to ease the situation.

    The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, was in Kyiv on Wednesday and scheduled to meet Yanukovich and opposition leaders.

    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, in a telephone conversation with Yanukovich on Tuesday night, welcomed concessions made so far and encouraged him to look for more ways to compromise with the opposition, the White House said.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: BamCo from: us
    January 29, 2014 2:26 PM
    Vasily, you are incredible!!! you are right of course... we do tend to put - what we call - "soft focus" - like if you have HDTV and you see Andrea Mitchel or Barbara Walters or Dian Sawyer... you will get a headache... and not just because of their stupidity...
    Vasily, don't worry about Iran... don't forget, we have Israel...

    by: Nieminen from: Finland
    January 29, 2014 2:09 PM
    OMG... Vasily... God bless you... OMG!!!

    but what next..?? how are you going to manage..?? How can we help..??
    In Response

    by: Alex from: Canada
    January 29, 2014 10:09 PM
    You can help.

    Just stay away from Ukraine and let them decide their future.
    Do not draw them into fragile black hole called EU.

    by: Vasily from: Ukraine
    January 29, 2014 1:18 PM
    to all our American friends, greetings.
    i don't know what is more painful for us - The cold brutality and misery that affect our bodies or the utter idiotic American Media coverage of our struggle... to read the utter stupid and insipid "coverage" of events here that the Western Media had seen fit to publish... its enough to drive a Saint to drink...

    Look, again... listen America, we don't care what the BBC/Al Jazeera is spewing - but we do care what you "America" thinks. and your "coverage" of events here have been appalling...!!!

    what we have here, listen carefully now, is a crisis of LEGITIMACY...!!! the "State" has lost its legitimacy..!!! you see, in Communism you have to have the "dictatorship of the proletariat" - in practice what happens is that you have a dictatorship of the petty, the squalid, the vindictive, the lecher, the cruel, the liar, and the stupid... now, the collapse of "official" Communism (1991) meant that the system just couldn't pay for its own corruption. and, of course, like inveterate fools, the "West" jumped in to "rescue" the same corruption that was threatening your own extinction - incredible, I agree, but true nonetheless...
    However, the infrastructure of fear and murder and abuse and rape and humiliation and denigration - has been kept intact..!! Today, what you call "criminal organization" or even "terrorist organization" in America - we call the State..!!! its the State that murders, its the State that rapes, its the State that sell illegal drugs, its the State that engaged in human trafficking and slavery and child prostitution and money laundering... are you getting that, America..??
    our problems are not unique to the Ukraine... what you see reflected in the Ukraine is an attempt to liberate ourselves from the coils of the squalid infrastructure of Communism..!!! what we have here is not a "political" crisis... where the Democrates want more Socialism and the Republicans want more Liberty and Capitalism... NO... what we have here is not a "vote of confidence.." like a Parliamentary Democracy problem... what we havve here is a crisis of LEGITIMACY...!!! THE STATE HAS LOST ITS - L E G I T I M A C Y !!!
    I hope you get it America. You see, the world thinks that you are stupid... I don't think so. but you do tend to see what you want to see... and you do tend to put an interpretive construction on events that is equally dangerous... like the case with Iran... do you really believe that they will renounce their commitment to hurt you?? i hope you don't... and don't think you have friends in Europe either...
    In Response

    by: Alex from: Canada
    January 29, 2014 10:06 PM
    This is very passionate passage.

    Vasily, as an Ukrainian I would agree with most of this but I still have some important questions to ask.
    All this is a reality for at least past 22 years and did not stop even for a moment.
    Questions:

    1. Why there were no movement or protests or outrage about this criminal State 2004 to 2010 when Julia Timshenko was PM and Yuzhenko was president.
    According to European Transparency Institute "corruption has flourished in Ukraine starting from 2005. Ukraine has plunged to #149 in the world when before that duo Ukraine was #100.

    2. Why EU and USA demand to free Julia Timoshenko?
    US rightfully convicted Pavlo Lazarenko for money laundering and mafia like activities for 10 years. Julia Timoshenko was his first aid. If you are from Ukraine or any other former Soviet republic you would know that everyone who is close to the God father is participating in those mafia activities. How America decides or you want to convince America that Julia Timoshenko is any better then Pavlo Lazarenko? If America can get it then no one else can get America.

    3. All the world powers condemn fascism, ban fascist parties or movements and outlaw them.
    How is USA or EU can justify that they deal and legitimize Ukrainian fascist party called Svoboda. ( Freedom). How they can deal with the party who calls death camp guard a hero when USA deported him to Germany for his war crimes.
    How they indorse Oleh Tyahnybok who is the head of the fascist party, as one of the opposition leaders when just early last year USA declared him and his deputy persona non grata.

    Just a few questions for now.
    In Response

    by: Yvan from: Canada
    January 29, 2014 2:22 PM
    Well mate as a westerner, i can tell you a lot of us are backing the demand for a legitimate governement in your country, our western country have fallen asleep, people here don't even vote anymore. So as for myself when i see common people taking to the street, i back them up, for i will probably never see my country waking up and bring back the base of democracy. I therefore don't see why you think where against your movement, probably that half our country is for it, and the other half against it. There is retarded, moralist people everywhere in the world. As we say it here, in the east they tell you to shut up, in the west they tell you keep talking, either way, it's the same thing. Don't despear mate, one day, probably not in our lifetime, a balance will be struck when we get a planet wide collective higher purpose. In the mean time, make sure your revolution is not stolen by extremist of either side, for the answer is always in the middle, not in absolutist
    In Response

    by: Tim Howard from: USMC Ret.
    January 29, 2014 1:59 PM
    wow Vasily, you are incredible!!! I had no idea things got that bad. Here we hear the virtues of Communism and Socialism but since we never lived under such regimes we have no reliable reference.

    Thank you Vasily. Really, thank you very much for this education - I had no idea

    I am calling everyone i know to read your post... I had no idea...

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora