News / Europe

    Russia, Ukraine Spar Over Border

    Ukrainian soldiers stop a vehicle at a checkpoint outside the town of Amvrosiivka, eastern Ukraine, close to the Russian border, June 5, 2014.
    Ukrainian soldiers stop a vehicle at a checkpoint outside the town of Amvrosiivka, eastern Ukraine, close to the Russian border, June 5, 2014.
    James Brooke
    Only six months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin explained on state television why his government planned to give $16 billion in aid to the “brotherly” nation of Ukraine.
     
    A Ukrainian government official proposed Friday building a 2,000-kilometer fence between Russia and Ukraine. Topped with barbed wire and electrified, the fence would be protected by ditches and anti-personnel mines.
     
    The $130 million project proposed by Hennadiy Korban is far from becoming a reality. But it illustrates how hostile relations between the two bordering nations have become.
     
    On Thursday, Ukraine’s new President Petro Poroshenko called Putin in the Kremlin to complain that three tanks had crossed into Ukraine to support pro-Russian separatists. Only days earlier, Putin publicly promised to completely seal the border.
     
    But then on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov acknowledged for the first time that Russia is sending cross-border aid to the rebels. He said it was “humanitarian.”

     
    Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
    x
    Click to enlarge
    Click to enlarge
    And, as if to prove the border has holes, Denis Pushilin, head of eastern Ukraine’s breakaway Donetsk People's Republic, popped up in Moscow this week. He met with nationalist politicians, appeared at a support rally, and gave interviews to Russian state television. In one, he said the rebels now have the three tanks - but he did not say where they came from.
     
    In the interview, he made financial arguments for trying to take his region from Ukraine into Russia. He said his region pays far more in taxes to Kyiv than it gets in return.
     
    Traffic through Russia’s so-called "closed" border goes both ways.

    Oleg Tsarev, a fugitive member of Ukraine's parliament, told reporters in Donetsk this week that he was just back from Moscow, where he opened a fund-raising office for his pro-separatist People’s Front.
     
    Thomas Graham, a director with Kissinger Associates, a New York-based consultancy, said in Moscow that a big question facing Putin is:
     
    “The extent to which Putin, or the Russians, actually control the situation on the ground, to what extent have somewhat autonomous forces begun to operate that don’t have a desire to deal with Kyiv in a reasonable fashion,” he said.
     
    Other analysts say Putin may be trying to create a permanent frozen conflict of the type now seen in Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan. These secessionist conflicts keep Russia’s neighbors weak and give Russia a card to play.
     
    Last week, Lavrov visited Finland, leading some analysts to speculate that the Kremlin’s goal is the “Finlandization” of Ukraine. Under this scenario, Ukraine would stay out of NATO, would commit itself to neutrality, and would be careful not to cross Russia’s interests.
     
    For now, Ukraine’s new government shows no sign of bending to Russia.
     
    As gas contract talks stumbled Friday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk ordered his government to prepare the nation for life without Russian gas. Faced with mounting unpaid bills, Russia has threatened to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine as early as Monday.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Truth from: Earth
    June 13, 2014 9:44 PM
    16 billion dollar bribe is what it is

    by: Kevin O from: New York, USA
    June 13, 2014 3:09 PM
    They aren't "bordering" countries, they actually overlap. And there are dozens of Russian tanks in Ukraine, in particular, in Crimea.
    In Response

    by: Peter from: Lucenec
    June 15, 2014 8:04 AM
    Wake up Kevin. Krym (Crimea) is NOT Ukraine.
    In Response

    by: JIm Brooke from: Moscow
    June 14, 2014 5:15 AM
    Kevin
    good point -- overlapping countries -- and the friction is getting hotter and hotter...
    Jim Brooke
    Moscow

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora