News / Europe

Putin Reserves Right to Use Force in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a live broadcast nationwide phone-in, in Moscow, Apr. 17, 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a live broadcast nationwide phone-in, in Moscow, Apr. 17, 2014.
Michael Eckels
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he has "a right" to send troops into Ukraine but hopes he will "not have to exercise that right."

Speaking live on Russian TV call-in show after a clash in eastern Ukraine in which three pro-Russian protesters were reported killed,  Putin warned the Ukrainian authorities of "the abyss they're heading into" and urged dialogue.

He also admitted for the first time that Russian forces had been active in Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow last month. Previously he insisted that the camouflaged, masked gunmen who took over Crimea were a local "self-defense" force.
 
But Putin stopped short of saying Russian forces were currently operating in eastern Ukraine.

"It’s nonsense," Putin said. "There are no Russian troops or special forces in eastern Ukraine," adding that Kyiv’s use of armed force in the region is a "serious crime."

The Russian president harshly criticized the West for trying to get Ukraine to align with it and said that people in eastern Ukraine have risen against the authorities in Kyiv, who ignored their rights and legitimate demands.

He said Russia has no interest in reviving Cold War-era divisions, even if Moscow felt threatened by NATO's eastward expansion and was angered by U.S. interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria that had gone ahead over the Kremlin's objections.

"The Iron Curtain is a Soviet invention,'' Putin said during the call-in show, which lasted just short of four hours. "We have no intention of closing off our country and our society from anyone.''

Ukrainian presidential election

He also said he will not recognize the results of Ukraine's upcoming elections on May 25.

The elections violate Ukraine’s constitution, as Viktor Yanukovyh is still legally president, Putin said.

Ukraine's prime minister on Thursday accused Putin of trying to sabotage the election and said Moscow was responsible for deaths in recent clashes in eastern Ukraine.

"Russia is playing only one game: further aggravation, further provocation, because the task, that Putin today officially announced, is to wreck the presidential election on May 25," Arseny Yatseniuk told journalists in Kiev.

Neighbors' concerns

The crisis has alarmed Russia's neighbours, which fear Russia may not stop at Crimea and may seek to grab back further chunks of former Soviet territory.

In comments likely to heighten such concerns, Putin said the people of Transdniestria - a breakaway, Slav-dominated region of ex-Soviet Moldova - should have the right to decide their own fate, though he stressed the need for negotiations.

Russian gas

Putin is also requesting advance payments for gas shipped to Ukraine in one month if it fails to reach agreement on settling its debts, urging Europe to assist Ukraine.

"What is the current number-one problem? It is that Russia can't carry this burden [of helping Ukraine struggle through crisis] single-handed," Putin said. "It is for this reason that we have suggested to our European partners and friends that all of us meet as soon as possible and map out methods of support for the Ukrainian economy. That is, of course, if you truly care about the well being of Ukraine, and truly love the Ukrainian nation."

Putin added that it would not be possible for Europe, which is trying to cut its reliance on Russian energy, to completely stop buying Russian gas. Russia meets presently around 30 percent of Europe's natural gas needs.

He said that the transit via Ukraine is the most dangerous element in Europe's gas supply system, and that he was hopeful a deal could be reached with Ukraine on gas supplies.

Geneva talks

He also expressed hope for the success of Thursday's talks in Geneva that brings together the United States, the European Union, Russia and Ukraine for the first time since the Ukrainian crisis erupted.

"I think the start of today's talks is very important," he said, "as it's very important now to think together about how to overcome this situation and offer a real dialogue to the people."

Obama administration officials played down any expectations that the meetings in Geneva would yield a breakthrough or Russian concessions meaningful enough to avoid new U.S. penalties. With Ukraine struggling to contain a pro-Russian uprising in its eastern region bordering Russia, the Obama administration is preparing additional sanctions against Moscow and a boost in aid for the Ukrainian military in the coming days, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

WATCH: Related video report by Jeff Custer
 
Violence Flares in Eastern Ukraine as Talks Begin in Genevai
X
April 17, 2014 1:37 PM
Officials in Ukraine say at least three pro-Russian separatists were killed and 13 wounded in a clash with national guardsmen at a base in the Ukrainian town of Mariupol. The violence comes as Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers get ready for emergency talks in Geneva with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. VOA's Jeff Custer has more.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: EstherUghMuffin from: Texas
April 17, 2014 7:18 PM
Do not be afraid of Russia. A Russian bleeds 'red' like everyone on Earth.

by: Anonymous
April 17, 2014 12:12 PM
Kyiv’s use of armed force to get rid of insurgents (even if Russian) from Government buildings is NOT a crime whatsoever, it is called protecting the government and future of Ukraine.

Putin has committed crimes perhaps the world should be discussing them, or the International Criminal Court.

by: Anonymous
April 17, 2014 12:09 PM
Putin has a job to do, to tell the people of Ukraine he has NO business getting involved in overthrowing the current temporary government of Ukraine. He has to tell the Russian separatists that if they want to live under Russian law, they must go home to "Russia". Putin must state to the world that he has no intentions WHATSOEVER to invade Ukraine for it is a sovereign state and he has no business there. Otherwise he is a criminal, and is the root of the problem.

Just like in Canada, if French people started crying to France that does not give the French the right to invade Canada and make a French country within, and France has no business there.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops along the Ukraine border before any of the Separatists started their thing in Ukraine, shows that Putin had invasion on his mind since the beginning. This shows what type of disrespect Putin has for the Ukraine Nation as a whole.

Putin is guilty of many crimes, in Chechnya, Georgia, even Moscow Theatre Siege, Syria, and now Ukraine.

Enough is enough, the people of Russia have to oust Putin, because the world will not do business with Putin anymore until he is removed.

Putin should stand trial for his crimes.

by: meanbill from: USA
April 17, 2014 9:33 AM
IF the US and the other (27) NATO countries had a God given right to attack Yugoslavia (under the guise for humanitarian reasons), to force them to give-up their sovereign land to form the independent state of Kosovo, then Russia has that same God given right, to protect the Russian people in Ukraine if attacked, (for humanitarian reasons), as the US and those other (27) NATO countries had, and to give those Russian people in Ukraine the same rights to form another independent state....

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs