News / Europe

Pro-Russia Militants Parade Captured OSCE Ukraine Monitors

Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the self-proclaimed mayor of Slovyansk, fourth from left, is flanked by a group of foreign military observers being held by Ponomaryov's group during a press conference in city hall, Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, April 27, 2014.
Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the self-proclaimed mayor of Slovyansk, fourth from left, is flanked by a group of foreign military observers being held by Ponomaryov's group during a press conference in city hall, Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, April 27, 2014.
Pro-Russian separatists paraded before the media Sunday a team of European security observers they seized last week in Ukraine’s eastern city of Slovyansk, and talks intensified over their fate.

The separatists said they are ready to swap the group of European military observers they snatched for some of their own jailed activists. They displayed to journalists their captives – eight in total with one member, a Swede, subsequently released – saying they were not being mistreated. Still, the group appeared nervous.  

The head of the captured military mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) took care to praise his kidnappers. Germany’s Colonel Axel Schneider said none of the mission members had been harmed, and that the town’s insurgent leader, the self-declared “people’s mayor,” Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, regarded them as guests.

But the colonel added he and his colleagues were not free to go.

Several hours later, the OSCE’s deputy mission chief in Ukraine, who arrived earlier in the day, was still trying to secure the captives' release.

Ponomaryov’s spokeswoman, Stella Khorosheva, said negotiations were continuing and that the pro Russia activists were still seeking a prisoner exchange.

Khorosheva only backed away slightly from earlier insurgent claims that the captured OSCE members were spies. She said they had behaved suspiciously when seeking to access this rust belt town of 130,000 and had material and equipment that compromised them.
The group was seized in the flashpoint town of Slovyansk in Ukraine’s troubled east despite the fact that the OSCE is tasked to help implement peace steps agreed to in the Geneva accord signed more than a week ago by top diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union.
The United States and European governments have condemned the group’s seizure. Moscow has said it is ready to help secure their release but has not denounced the separatist action.
Earlier, three captured Ukrainian security service officers also were displayed in Slovyansk to journalists. Bloodied and blindfolded, they had been stripped to their underpants.
The capture of the OSCE team appears to have slowed the progress of a campaign by the Ukrainian military to contain the separatists, who Kyiv authorities and many in West believe have Moscow’s backing.
Several separatist checkpoints beyond Slovyansk and the neighboring town of Kramatorsk that had been cleared by Ukrainian government forces last week were back Sunday in the hands of the insurgents.
A group of eight masked and well-equipped separatists were stopping cars on a road leading to Kramatorsk’s small airport, which is being used as a base by Ukrainian Special Forces units.
They snatched a young couple who had just delivered food for the soldiers at the base, claiming they were “bandits.”

Their leader, who declined to give his name, said the pro-Russian insurgents are protecting ethnic Russians in Ukraine. He says the February ouster of Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych that triggered the Ukraine crisis was a crime against the Ukrainian people.

Watch related video by VOA's Michael Bowman:
New G-7 Sanctions Against Russia Expectedi
Michael Bowman
April 27, 2014 9:15 PM
The United States and its G-7 partners are imposing new sanctions against Russia. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, existing sanctions have not altered Moscow’s posture towards Ukraine, with Russian forces still massed along its borders and a promised truce in eastern Ukraine yet to materialize.

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jim from: Italy
April 28, 2014 5:38 AM
These observers were not seized without the directions coming from Putin. These "pro-Russian" patriots wouldn't belch without his permission.

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
April 28, 2014 3:28 AM
The US needs to act to show Russia that she rules. As for China, China is a piece bread for the US. let China try to defeat Japan first, before thinking of the US. China have been trying to defeat Taiwan for the longest, and still she cannot do that. China just had her first aircraft carrier last year, Make no mistake, China is no match for the US. As for Russia, the US get something for her. Beside that nuclear weapon that Russia has, what can she do to the US? nothing.and let us be very clear here, if Russia fire nuclear weapon into the US, so help us all God. The world read in history there was a country call Russia. Because there will be no Russia. Cuz the US will turn Russia into graveyard. Mr. Putin is bluffing, because he knows Mr. Obama has diplomatic policy.What I realized about Mr. Obama, everybody is different. I respect the man, cuz this how he handle things, But had it been President Bush, Mr. Putin nothing would have stop this nonsense long time ago. As we speak, there is no military in this world that can withstand the US fire power, you crazy? or Mr. Putin thinks he will fire nuclear weapon into the US and we just sit there, and do nothing? He must be crazy, but he is not crazy enough. He preys on weaker countries. But we the citizen of America stand with our president, we must end this Putin aggression. God Bless America

by: Igor
April 27, 2014 10:07 PM
Ukraine use the russian gas and do not pay , fraud.
What will be if I stop to pay for gas.
In Response

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
April 29, 2014 12:28 AM
The US does not want Russia gas? We have our own Gas. The US has the higher gas export in the world. The US has gas reserved for her and other countries. America doesn't need gas from the Middle East either. search this record, secondly, all the Russians in Ukraine need to go back to Russia. let them leave the people alone. If Mr. Putin wants to build his empire,let him do it in Russia. He needs to take those Russian Citizens that he wants to protect to Russia and leave Ukraine alone. Mr. Putin is criminal minded, He needs to be brought to justice.

by: joe from: us
April 27, 2014 1:14 PM
but united states as champion of the free world can't allow russia to take advantage of other countries and china it ll be in the hole if it wasnt for united states and europe that made china rich so china needs of the money of the other rich countries other wise itll be an agricultural society like it was in the 1970's

by: oldlamb from: Guangzhou
April 27, 2014 9:58 AM
The most serious stragic mistake Obama has made was that America has created two enormous enemies(China and Russia) in the same time from east to west.The better diplomatic decision should be made that Obama should postpone his Asian trip( to Japan,Korea,Malaysia,Philippines)to the latter half of the year.Can not push China into Russian’ hug.Because now more strategic resources are need for Obama to confront Putin in Ukraine immediately.But the fact is that his Asian trip opening a new threatre of war.China was provocated.Putin will have a formal visit to China nest month.China now is embattling in the West Pacific Ocean. China’ marine surveillance ships have been cruising around the Diayu Island(Japan also claims) and South China Sea thick and fast since Obama had speech in Japan.
With the escalating emergency crisis in Ukraine,the US and EU almost can do nothing effective unless the void sanctions,talks,and sended small fleets to the Black Sea,it is look like hustle and bustle,nonetheless Russia will not be daunted and cowered,because Putin know that it is swashbuckling for what US and EU have done.It is lack of the strategic resources for US to support the new interim government of Ukraine.
In Response

by: anton from: poland
April 27, 2014 1:18 PM
your word salad aside, I am not sure you lend your position credibility by saying the US and EU lack resources. I am OK with Russian and Chinese partisans underestimating the power of the west and it's people, yet again.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs