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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs