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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid