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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora