News / Europe

Russian Aggression May Spread Beyond Ukraine, Kravchuk Warns

Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk talks to lawmakers, parliament session hall, Kyiv, Jan. 29, 2014.
Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk talks to lawmakers, parliament session hall, Kyiv, Jan. 29, 2014.
In an exclusive interview with VOA in Kyiv, Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of independent Ukraine, warns that war will spread far beyond his country if Russian troops move across the border.

While the former leader says he hopes international pressure can prevent further aggression in the wake of Mocow's Crimea annexation, he insists Russian President Vladimir Putin “will not be satisfied with only Ukraine — that will not be the stopping point …and this can be the beginning of the Third World War.”

While Russia denies plans for further military action in Ukraine, it has recently moved troops to the border between the two countries for what Moscow says are military exercises. Some Ukrainians and security analysts have expressed concern that Russia might try to take control of parts of Ukraine or nearby Moldova where there are sizable ethnic Russian populations.

Nuclear threat

In both Ukraine and abroad, people have questioned whether the country would be facing possible war with its former ally to the east, had then-president Kravchuk not agreed to send 1,800 nuclear warheads — inherited after the breakup of the Soviet Union — back to Russia.
 
Ukraine's first president, Leonid Kravchuk, speaks to VOA's Steve Herman in Kyiv, March 25, 2013.Ukraine's first president, Leonid Kravchuk, speaks to VOA's Steve Herman in Kyiv, March 25, 2013.
x
Ukraine's first president, Leonid Kravchuk, speaks to VOA's Steve Herman in Kyiv, March 25, 2013.
Ukraine's first president, Leonid Kravchuk, speaks to VOA's Steve Herman in Kyiv, March 25, 2013.
Kravchuk said he has “stood for and still stands for nuclear weapons not existing at all,” and that is why he signed the 1994 agreement to remove all nuclear weapons from Ukraine with then-Presidents Boris Yeltsin of Russia and Bill Clinton of the United states.

In exchange for relinquishing what at the time was the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal, Ukraine, in the subsequent Budapest Memorandum, received guarantees of sovereignty from both Russia and Western powers.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea, following a flash referendum amid political turmoil in Kyiv, violates that agreement, according to the U.S. and the European Union.

Kravchuk, president from 1991 to 1994, is now calling for the West to impose tougher sanctions because of Russia’s actions and the military threat it poses.

Otherwise , he said, Russia could “cross the line,” consequences of which would be “dangerous not only for Ukraine, but also for the world.”

Putin

Kravchuk, a top Communist Party official in Ukraine until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, had especially bitter words to describe Putin, whom he remembers as a KGB officer who carried the briefcase of others.

Kravchuk said Putin “absorbed the worst methods” of the KGB, which, he contends, was responsible for repression and everything else atrocious that happened in the Soviet Union.

The world should remember that Putin “was raised in the organization,” he said.

Now honorary chairman of Ukraine’s friendship association with China, Kravchuk said he understands Beijing’s abstention on the U.N. Security Council vote declaring the pro-Russian referendum in Crimea as invalid, adding that China’s decision not to cast a veto alongside Russia, its traditional ally, was actually a small victory for Ukraine.

Kravchuk noted China shares a long border with Russia and desires to get along with a neighbor who is becoming increasingly aggressive — a situation with which he said Ukrainians can certainly empathize.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: vladirmir debil from: california
March 25, 2014 11:19 PM
Putin still more honest than Obama!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs