World News

Russia to "Use All Options" to Protect Ukraine; U.S. Offers $1 Billion in Aid

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Tuesday in Kyiv, Ukraine, where he was to announce a $1 billion aid package to the nation that is divided by political unrest.

As Kerry demonstrated U.S. support for Ukraine's interim government, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country is prepared to use all options to protect Russians in Ukraine. He added that he hopes Russia will not have to use force.

In his first public comments since ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kyiv, the Russian leader called Ukraine's political power shift an "anti-constitutional coup and armed seizure of power," and said Mr. Yanukovych is still Ukraine's "legitimate" leader, though he had no chances of being re-elected.

President Putin's comments Tuesday come amid a growing crisis over Russia's military presence in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. The United States and its European allies are considering sanctions against Russia for its troop movements into Ukraine.

While in Ukraine, Secretary Kerry is expected to meet members of the interim government and reinforce U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty. Loan guarantees he was expected to offer are aimed at lessening the impact of proposed cuts to energy subsidies on Ukrainian citizens.



Mr. Putin ordered tens of thousands of troops taking part in military exercises in western Russia, near the Ukrainian border, to return to base. The exercises were scheduled to end, so it is unclear whether the move was intended to help ease tensions.

Moscow has denied that the exercises, started last week, were related to the situation in Ukraine.

On Monday night, U.S. President Barack Obama met with Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other members of his national security team at the White House to discuss policy options.

Earlier Monday, President Obama called on Congress to approve an aid package for the new Ukrainian government.

In tandem with the diplomatic push, the U.S. Defense Department said Monday it is suspending military-to-military contacts with Russia. Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said the move is aimed at prodding Moscow to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, and said the suspension covers maneuvers, bilateral meetings, port visits and conference planning.

European Union foreign ministers have issued a Thursday deadline for Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull back his troops or face punitive measures.

Russia, meanwhile, is calling on Ukraine to return to a February 21 agreement between ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition that involved forming a national unity government.

But State Department spokeswoman Psaki said Monday that while the agreement could be used as a "basis," the dramatic change in circumstances since then means it is not usable as it is.

President Obama accused Russia Monday of violating international law with its actions in Ukraine. He said the country is "on the wrong side of history."

Russia says its military movements in Ukraine are to protect its citizens there. But the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council Monday that Russia's intervention is an "act of aggression," and not the humanitarian mission it is seeking to portray.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke Monday by telephone with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The White House said Biden urged Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, support the immediate deployment of international monitors and begin a "meaningful political dialogue" with the Ukrainian government.

Crimea is a Black Sea peninsula placed under Ukrainian control in 1954 by then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It remained part of Ukraine when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Crimea has a tiny border with Russia on its far eastern point, and the Crimean port of Sevastapol is home to Russia's Black Sea fleet. Most of the people living in Crimea are ethnic Russians, but the region also is home to ethnic Muslim Tatars, who generally show disdain for Russia.

Ukraine's troubles began in November, when President Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties and economic aid from Russia. The move triggered weeks of pro-Western anti-government demonstrations in Kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine, and forced the pro-Russian Yanukovych to flee the capital in late February.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs