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 Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid