News / Europe

Russia, EU Try to Bridge Differences Over Ukraine

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrives for an EU foreign ministers meeting at the European Council building in Brussels, Dec. 16, 2013.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrives for an EU foreign ministers meeting at the European Council building in Brussels, Dec. 16, 2013.
Lisa Bryant
The European Union sought to reassure Russia Monday that a trade agreement between Europe and Ukraine would not harm Moscow. Foreign ministers from both sides spoke in Brussels Monday, amid European divisions over how to move forward.

Speaking to reporters following a luncheon meeting between European Union foreign ministers and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Russian fears about a trade agreement between Europe and Ukraine were unfounded.

"What we've been saying to our Russia counterpart is there is no need to operate in an atmosphere of pressure. What we should be doing is making sure that both countries have a free choice about the agreements they reach," she said. "But also recognizing that in a world of free trade agreements, and under the WTO, it's very normal for countries to have agreements with many other countries."

Talks between the two sides took place on the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers meeting. They follow weeks of mass protests in Ukraine after the country's president, Victor Yanukovych, backed away from a long-planned trade deal with the EU under pressure from Moscow.  Yanukovych heads to Moscow Tuesday for discuss a roadmap for better trade relations with Russia.

Speaking to reporters after the Brussels meeting, Foreign Minister Lavrov sought to paper over differences with Europe.

"It was our common agreement that everyone should respect sovereignty of any country, including Ukraine, and everyone should allow the people to make the free choice of how they want to develop their country," he said.

Divisions also exist among EU members on how to handle Kyiv. The block's enlargement chief Stefan Fuele tweeted on Sunday that the trade talks with Kyiv were on hold. That has drawn criticism from the Netherlands. EU members say the door remains open.

Still, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt voiced EU frustrations about Yanukovych's seemingly inconsistent policy, in which he has appeared to move closer and then distance himself from a trade deal.

"Talks require a policy…and there's doublespeak from President Yanukovych," he said.  "He's sending one of his deputy prime ministers to Brussels to say nothing and then he says says another thing in Kyiv."

Nonetheless, Bildt says, if Kyiv sends a clear message favoring a trade agreement, the EU is ready to sign it.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs