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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

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.
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