News / Europe

Russia, NATO Spar Over Military Forces in Central Europe

A pro-Russian activist regulates road traffic at a checkpoint outside the eastern Ukrainian city of Druzhkovka, June 2, 2014.
A pro-Russian activist regulates road traffic at a checkpoint outside the eastern Ukrainian city of Druzhkovka, June 2, 2014.
James Brooke
With Russia pulling most of its roughly 40,000 troops away from its border with Ukraine, NATO and Russia have started sparring over the nation’s new cross-border tactic.  

As armed units from Russia mount daily attacks on Ukrainian border posts, Russia warned the Western military alliance Monday not to shift forces East.

Russia's Representative to NATO, Alexander Grushko, told Interfax news agency if the Kremlin sees "a shifting of NATO's military potential towards the 'eastern wing," Russia will take measures necessary so its security is not affected.

Grushko spoke as Russia and NATO prepared to meet on Monday for the first time in three months. Ukraine is not a member of NATO.

Cross border attacks from Russia are expected to dominate debate Tuesday and Wednesday in a NATO defense chiefs meeting.

Thursday, Russia’s support for Ukrainian separatists is expected to overshadow ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. That event is to be attended by President Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President elect, Petro Poroshenko, among other heads of state.

In the latest cross border attack, Ukrainian border forces in Luhansk said they battled an assault Monday by 500 armed men coming from Russia.
 
FILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Apr. 16, 2014.FILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Apr. 16, 2014.
x
FILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Apr. 16, 2014.
FILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Apr. 16, 2014.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is taking a hard line on military attacks from Russia. On a visit Friday to Lithuania, a former Soviet Republic on the Baltic Sea, he said:

“Russia’s illegal aggression against Ukraine is a game changer. What does not change is NATO’s core task to defend  our allies against attack.  And make no mistake, NATO will defend every part of the alliance.  No ally stands alone,” he said.

Saying he had no doubt Russia is destabilizing Ukraine, he added: “We continue to call on Russia to stop supporting armed pro-Russian gangs and seal the border so that we do not see arms and fighters crossing into Ukraine.”

During the past two weeks the Kremlin has moved most of its 40,000 troops away from Ukraine’s border.  Instead of sending Russian Army units into Ukraine, the Kremlin appears to be sending arms and military “volunteers” across its highly porous land border with Ukraine.

Russia denies sending any military aid across the border.

Growing tensions

Meanwhile, Russian state television has reshaped Russian opinion to see Ukrainians as enemies of Russia.

In a nationwide poll conducted last month, Levada Poll found that 56 percent of respondent opposed sending the Russian Army into Ukraine. But a nearly equal percentage, 58 percent, supported Russia sending arms and military advisors to southeastern Ukraine.

On Saturday, Eduard Limonov, a nationalist opposition leader unexpectedly found that he was given a downtown Moscow demonstration permit and a megaphone.

He shouted to the crowd: “Poles, Lithuanians, Baltics, Finns - they were all against us with Hitler, and before that with Napoleon. Then they were at the gathering on the Maidan.”

Nearby, Ramil Gizatullin, a dentist, stood with a large banner calling for Russia’s recognition of the self-styled republic of Novorossiya, an entity that would combined Ukraine’s two breakaway regions, Donetsk and Luhansk.

He said he wanted a tougher Kremlin policy toward Kyiv -- cutting off the gas, and recognition of Novorossiya.

Hudson Institute security expert Richard Weitz says Russia’s verbal and military aggression is having an impact in the West.

“One consequence of Ukraine is that it looks like it could create NATO cohesion," he said.

Putin may have decided to pull back from an overt military attack on Ukraine for fear of having to pay a heavy economic price.

The limited Western sanctions appear to be pushing Russia into a recession this year. Stock market and ruble exchange rate volatility are scaring off foreign investment.

During the first four months of this year, $55 billion flowed out of Russia, almost equal to the entire amount for all of last year, and international bond markets have largely closed to Russian companies and banks. Since Russia’s annexation of Ukraine, no Russian company has been able to sell a foreign currency bond.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
June 02, 2014 8:38 PM
THESE Russian border crossers aren't like all the terrorists crossing into Syria from Turkey and Jordan, that the US, EU, and NATO countries, and the Saudi and Qataris (arm and supply?) --- (NO?) --- these Russians and visitors from the Russian side, are visiting relatives and bring food that's special, and hard to find...
NOBODY want's peace, more than Putin? -- (BUT?) -- I wonder how long he'll be able to hold back his anger, while Russian speaking innocent people are being killed by those neo-Nazi and Right Sector thugs?
In Response

by: jim brooke from: moscow
June 03, 2014 9:08 AM
Meanbill,
In case you missed the news, Ukraine had an election 10 days ago where a centrist candidate, Petro Poroshenko, won an unprecedented first round victory, winning majorities from across Ukraine. The exceptions were Lugansk and Donetsk where masked, armed men destroyed voting boxes in front of cameras, presumably to educate Eastern Ukraine on the way voting is carried out across the border in Russia. (Winners are decided in advance).

Meanwhile, Ukraine's two hard right parties got less than 2 percent combined. By comparison, the National Front in France got 25 percent. Why does Russia's state-controlled TV soldier on with the 'nazi fascist' namecalling? They do this largely because this resonates with Russians, all of whom grew on Soviet propaganda movies from the 1950s and 1960s, which showed Western Ukrainians as Nazis, and Red Army troops as Communist liberators.
What the Soviet films did not show is that the mortality rate for Soviet security personnel in Western Ukraine from 1945-1954 was higher than the rate for Soviet security personnel during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Presumably, President Putin, whose pre-politics career was with the KGB, knows of the real military difficulties of confronting Ukrainian partisans. As a result, he seems to have pulled back from committing Russian Army units inside Ukraine.
Jim Brooke
Moscow
In Response

by: Huang Zhang from: Hong Kong
June 03, 2014 2:15 AM
Meanbill from Russia, you better read the above true article first before putting your silly comments. Your words not reflecting the reality on the ground. Actually, Putin is Hitler's heir to mount the horrors on human beings in this 21st century. Putin dirtily plundered Crimea and now he spreading his arm-terrorist men around Ukraine in hope to take more land from Ukraine. No doubt, Putin will rob your home too.

by: Anonymous
June 02, 2014 4:50 PM
What is happening inthe east side of the russia while this is going on
In Response

by: Huang Zhang from: Hong Kong 593480
June 03, 2014 1:37 PM
Do not petrify: Volan from: South-Africa (in fact, you are a dumb Russian), as I have checked your location. The world stands with Ukrainian people and you under Putin dictator, a loser, would face a lonely isolation on International stage as a robber of Ukrainian territory.
In Response

by: Volan from: South-Africa
June 03, 2014 7:26 AM
Huang Zhang from Hong Kong, you better read another article that will explain the situation better than the American propoganda article you see above. Plundered Crimea?! C'mon! Not one single shot was fired. It was a referendum that was voted by the people of Crimea whom are Russians and always will be. Reality on the ground? Why are civilians asking the military to stop the fighting and not the pro-russian people? Because the civilians or (pro-russian fighters) is the people standing up against their government that is a farce!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More