News / Europe

Russia to 'Intensify' Military Exercises Near Ukraine Border

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during a Security Council meeting in Sochi March 13, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during a Security Council meeting in Sochi March 13, 2014
Michael Eckels
The Russian military is conducting exercises in several regions of the country near the border with Ukraine, as a state-run polling agency reports that President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has hit a new high.

The most notable thing about Thursday's news items from Russia is how they are connected.
 
In the morning, the Russian Defense Ministry stated on its website that it planned to "intensify" combat training exercises in the Rostov, Belgorod, Kursk and Tambov regions -- three of which lie on the border with Ukraine.
 
Mark Galeotti is a professor of global affairs at New York University who specializes in Russian security issues.

“It could mean everything or it could mean nothing.  It could simply be part of their strategy to increase their pressure on Ukraine.  On the other hand, if Russia really is contemplating wider military action into eastern Ukraine, this would be one of the precursors,” said Galeotti.
 
Pavel Felgenhauer, a defense columnist for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, says the public announcement was also a tacit message for pro-Russian sympathizers in Ukraine.  "Russian troops are just behind the corner, and if they move to declare these regions 'Russian,' as it happened in Crimea, that Russia could swiftly move in," said Felgenhauer.
 
At a meeting in Sochi with his advisory Security Council, President Putin underscored Russia was not to blame for the situation, which he called an "internal Ukrainian crisis."
 
Felgenhauer says Russians support the president's hard line toward the new Ukrainian government.
 
“The majority of Russians support Vladimir Putin and support (a) possible move of Russian troops into -- not only into Crimea, but other parts of Ukraine,” he said.
 
And polling data -- at least data provided by the state-owned All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, or VTsIOM -- indeed show a spike in the Russian president's popularity.  According to VTsIOM, Mr. Putin’s approval rating, thanks largely to his handling of Ukraine, hit 71 percent Thursday -- its highest level since the 68 percent approval rating registered during his May 2012 inauguration.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid