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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.