News / Europe

    White House: Ukraine Will Be 'Front and Center' on Obama Trip to Europe

    Ukrainian soldiers man a military check point by a camp on a field the Ukrainian Army forces set up close to the Russian border in east Ukraine, March 21, 2014.
    Ukrainian soldiers man a military check point by a camp on a field the Ukrainian Army forces set up close to the Russian border in east Ukraine, March 21, 2014.
    VOA News
    The White House says the situation in Ukraine will be "front and center" during President Barack Obama's trip to Europe next week.

    National Security Advisor Susan Rice told reporters Friday that the common theme to the president's trip is the fundamental strength of U.S. partnerships and alliances, including NATO, the European Union and the G7.

    Rice said Ukraine and the Russian takeover of Crimea are prompting a fundamental reassessment of U.S.-Russian relations. She said the world will clearly see that Russia is more and more isolated.

    Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said a G-7 summit in The Hague -- a meeting that probably would have included Russia as an eighth member -- has been added to the president's agenda as part of that isolation.

    Also on the president's European schedule is a nuclear security summit with more than 50 other countries, including Russia.

    Rice said the United States has every interest in continuing to cooperate with Russia on this issue, which she calls a pillar of the Obama national security policy -- making it harder for terrorists to get their hands on nuclear materials.  

    Monitors en route to Ukraine

    Meanwhile, Russia and the rest of the OSCE [the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] agreed Friday to deploy civilian monitors to Ukraine, but there is no mention if they will go to Crimea.

    The OSCE, which works by consensus, says up to 500 monitors will gather information on the security situation in Ukraine, including human rights.

    The United States said the OSCE has a mandate to work in all of Ukraine, including Crimea. But Russia's ambassador to the OSCE, Andrey Kelin, said Crimea is part of Russia and the mission has no mandate there.

    Russia has thwarted several efforts to deploy monitors in Crimea. Pro-Russian forces stopped OSCE military observers from crossing into Crimea last week.

    Watch related video by VOA's Henry Ridgwell

    EU Signs Ukraine Agreement, Expands Sanctions Against Russiai
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    March 21, 2014 10:00 PM
    The European Union has added an additional 12 names to the list of Russian officials facing targeted sanctions, following Moscow's annexation of Crimea. Analysts say the effects of the U.S. and EU sanctions are starting to be felt in Moscow. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

    Putin signs law annexing Crimea

    Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday signed legislation completing the annexation of Crimea, while Ukraine initialed a deal for closer political cooperation with the European Union.   

    The Kremlin signing ceremony took place after the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's parliament, voted unanimously to incorporate the Crimea region into Russia. The lower house ratified the treaty on Thursday, just four days after Crimean residents voted in a referendum to break away from Ukraine and join Russia.

    President Putin and Crimean leaders signed the treaty on Tuesday, and the Kremlin said the treaty came into force on the date it was signed.

    In Brussels, meanwhile, Ukraine's interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk signed a political association agreement with the European Union. Also Friday, the EU added 12 people - all Russian or Crimean - to a list of those subject to travel bans and asset freezes, raising the number of such individuals to 33.

    Among those newly added to the EU sanctions list are Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Dmitry Kiselyov, the controversial TV anchor who heads the Russian government's Rossiya Segodnya news agency.  

    The United States has also imposed sanctions on Russian officials - including several members of President Putin's inner circle - and a prominent Russian bank.

    President Barack Obama says he is considering more penalties against entire sectors of the Russian economy.  He says those plans are being formulated in conjunction with European allies.

    Retaliation on hold

    In a meeting Friday with his advisory Security Council, Putin said for now, Russia will hold off on imposing sanctions on the United States in retaliation for U.S. sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis.  

    However, his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters separately that Russia will respond in kind to the latest U.S. sanctions, which target Russian officials and members of President Putin's inner circle. "We will respond every time," Peskov said.

    And the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that Russia will "respond harshly" to the latest round of U.S. sanctions.

    Warning from Britain

    On Friday, British Prime Minister David Cameron warned the Kremlin that Russia would face far reaching consequences if it sent troops into Ukraine after a referendum in Crimea which he said has been carried out under the barrel of a Kalashnikov.

    "The best rebuke to Russia is a strong and successful Ukraine,'' Cameron said, adding that if Russian troops went into eastern Ukraine then the Kremlin would face "far-reaching consequences in a broad range of economic  areas.''
      
    Cameron also said that Russia is more dependent on Europe than Europe is on Russia.

    US ships food

    The U.S. is planning to ship about 300,000 ready-to-eat meals to Ukrainian military forces, even though a broader billion-dollar aid package for Kyiv is stalled in Congress.

    The Defense Department said Friday that the U.S. focus is on "non-lethal" aid in the aftermath of Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. Moscow has moved quickly this week to incorporate Crimea into the Russian landscape after its predominantly Russian-speaking population voted overwhelmingly last Sunday to join Russia.

    A Defense spokesman said the 25,000 cases of food are in Europe but have yet to be shipped to Ukraine.

    The U.S. has proposed $1 billion in aid for Ukraine, but the measure has stalled in Congress, where lawmakers have disagreed on an unrelated provision covering $60 billion in U.S. spending for the International Monetary Fund.

    UN secretary-general

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Friday with Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, and acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Kyiv for discussions on resolving the crisis.

    On Thursday, Ban met with Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, where he urged the Russian leader to prevent "any unintended incident" in or near Ukraine that could aggravate tensions in the volatile region.

    The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday that Ban's assistant, Ivan Simonovic, is in Crimea. During his two-day visit, Simonovic will lay the groundwork for a U.N. human rights monitoring mission to set up a presence in Crimea the announcement said.

    Images from Crimea

    • A Ukrainian soldier walks past Russian soldiers marching to their camp outside a military base in Perevalne, Crimea, March 21, 2014.
    • Uniformed men, believed to be Russian troops, march outside a military base in Perevalnoye, near the Crimean city of Simferopol, March 21, 2014.
    • Ukrainian Navy sailors raise the Ukrainian flag on the Ukrainian navy command ship Slavutych as it is blocked by two Russian ships at the Crimean port of Sevastopol, March 21, 2014.
    • Russian sailors walk near the Ukrainian ship Slavutich in Sevastopol, March 20, 2014.
    • The Ukrainian ship Slavutich is seen blocked by two Russian ships at the harbor in Sevastopol, March 20, 2014.
    • A Ukrainian soldier walks near a closed entrance gate at an airforce base in the Crimean town of Belbek, March 20, 2014.
    • Workers put up a new sign reading "State Council of the Crimean Republic" at the parliament building in Simferopol, March 19, 2014.
    • Armed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, walk on the territory of the naval headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, March 19, 2014.
    • A Ukrainian naval officer passes by armed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, as he leaves the naval headquarters in Sevastopol, March 19, 2014.
    • A member of a pro-Russian self-defense force takes down a Ukrainian Navy flag, left, as another raises the Russian flag at Ukrainian Navy headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, March 19, 2014.


    US sanctions

    President Barack Obama makes a statement on Ukraine at the White House, March 20, 2014.President Barack Obama makes a statement on Ukraine at the White House, March 20, 2014.
    x
    President Barack Obama makes a statement on Ukraine at the White House, March 20, 2014.
    President Barack Obama makes a statement on Ukraine at the White House, March 20, 2014.
    On Thursday, President Barack Obama announced further sanctions against Russia. Speaking at the White House, Obama said he is penalizing more individuals and a bank involved in Russia's occupation of the Black Sea peninsula. Earlier, the United States limited travel and the economic activity of several key Russians involved in the Crimea takeover.

    The president also said he is considering more penalties to entire sectors of the Russian economy, as well as specific individuals. He said those plans are being formulated in conjunction with European allies.

    EU travel ban, asset freeze

    In Brussels, meanwhile, European Union leaders added 12 people -- all Russian or Crimean -- to a list of those subject to travel bans and asset freezes. The new names were not immediately released, but the move raises the number of people subject to EU sanctions to 33.

    U.S. Officials Sanctioned by Russia

    • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
    • Senator John McCain
    • Senator Daniel Coats
    • Senator Robert Menendez
    • Senator Mary Landrieu
    • House Speaker John Boehner
    • Deputy National Security Advisor Caroline Atkinson
    • Presidential Aide Daniel Pfeiffer
    • Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes
    Moscow retaliated against the U.S. sanctions with travel bans on nine Americans, including Republican Senator John McCain, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner.

    On Wednesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke for nearly an hour with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. A Pentagon spokesman says Hagel asked why Russian troops are deploying along Ukraine's eastern southern borders. The spokesman said Hagel was assured that the troops are conducting maneuvers and have no plans to enter Ukraine.

    Ukrainian officials say armed pro-Russian forces seized three Ukrainian warships in Crimea's Sevastopol Bay Thursday.

    Ukraine authorities said Tuesday that Kyiv has drawn up plans to evacuate Crimea, and will seek U.N. support in turning the peninsula into a demilitarized zone. Ukraine Defense Council Secretary Andriy Parubiy also said Ukraine is planning to hold military maneuvers "with our allies." He did not elaborate.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.