News / Europe

Russia, Ukraine, Former Natural Gas Trading Partners, Now Trade Insults

FILE - A pressure gauge is seen at a gas compressor station near Uzhhorod, western Ukraine, May 2014.
FILE - A pressure gauge is seen at a gas compressor station near Uzhhorod, western Ukraine, May 2014.
James Brooke
Russia and Ukraine, once brotherly nations, are fighting over natural gas deliveries and military aid.
 
Russia has stopped buying potatoes from Ukraine and selling gas to Ukraine. In return, Ukraine wants to seal its border with Russia, accusing the Kremlin of sending tanks and cannons to help Ukraine’s separatists.
 
Just when relations could not get worse, Ukraine’s acting foreign minister called Russian President Vladimir Putin a "dickhead.”
 
In a video clip that has gone viral on the Internet, Ukraine’s top diplomat, Andriy Deshchytsia, can be seen trying to calm several hundred young demonstrators. They had just splattered the Russian embassy in Kyiv with eggs and green paint and had turned over three cars belonging to Russian diplomats.

Bitter recriminations

After the diplomat utters the insult, the crowd pauses. Then, they start to sing the phrase, a refrain made popular recently by sport fans who had united to  defend Ukraine’s unity.
 
Error rendering Timeline.

In Moscow, the reaction Monday was as chilly as the out of season Arctic weather now cloaking the Russian capital. Politician after politician demanded the resignation of the Ukrainian who had insulted Russia’s ruler. For almost 15 years, Putin has stood at the summit of Russia’s “vertikal vlasti” -- or “vertical of power”
 
In his Facebook blog, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev denounced what he called “the paranoid behavior of the acting foreign minister near the Russian Embassy in Kyiv.”
 
At a press conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was equally chilly. He said, "As to the person called Deschytsia, like I said, I have nothing to talk to him about anymore."
 
Gas supplies

On the other side of the border, some Ukrainians backed the use of undiplomatic language.
 
Dmytro Tymchuk, head of the Center for Political and Military Studies in Kyiv, said, "We have a free country. I don’t see anything wrong here.”

For some, the name calling incident was a welcome diversion from the more worrying fact that Russia stopped selling gas to Ukraine on Monday.

Ukraine owes Russia almost $5 billion for overdue gas bills -- and refuses to pay.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told a cabinet meeting on Monday, “Ukrainians will not pull $5 billion out of their pockets a year so that Russia can use this money to buy arms, tanks, and planes and bomb Ukrainian territory.”
 
In response, Medvedev went on national television to accuse Ukraine of turning down “ultra-discount” prices to create an “artificial gas crisis” with Europe.
 
"This is deplorable," he said. "This truly smells of blackmail.”
 
Ukrainian officials say they can hold out with their own gas reserves through December. Facing six months of gas talks, and a secessionist war in the east, many Ukrainians are enjoying the distraction of a diplomatic spat with Russia.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs