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
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

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs