World News

Russian Duma Approves Crimea Annexation




Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has overwhelmingly ratified a treaty to annex Crimea from Ukraine.

The lawmakers voted on the measure Thursday, and the parliament's upper house, the Federation Council, will hold a similar vote on Friday.

Crimeans voted in a regional referendum last Sunday to declare independence from Ukraine in hopes of joining the Russian Federation.

On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin and Crimean leaders signed the treaty making Crimea part of Russia after Mr. Putin declared in a speech that the peninsula had always been an "inalienable" part of Russia. The Kremlin said later Tuesday that the treaty was in force from the day it was signed.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is visiting Moscow, expressed deep concern - saying the referendum will only exacerbate "an already complex and tense situation."

Meanwhile, the European Union is readying further sanctions against Russia over its annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her nation's parliament Thursday the EU is prepared to move to "Level 3" measures, which would include economic sanctions, if the situation worsens.

The EU and the United States have already imposed travel bans and asset freezes on Russian officials deemed responsible for the incursion into Crimea.

Chancellor Merkel said the Group of Eight forum of leading economies is effectively suspended as long as the diplomatic standoff with Russia continues. Russia is part of the G8, along with Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.



Mr. Ban is meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, before traveling to Ukraine Friday.

Meanwhile, President Turchynov says the commander of Ukraine's navy has been freed after being held by Russian forces and Crimean authorities at the navy's headquarters in Crimea. He said Rear Admiral Sergei Haiduk was released, along with an unspecified number of civilians.

The group was detained after the Ukrainian naval base in the Crimean port of Sevastopol was seized Wednesday. Reports indicated pro-Russian militiamen -- Crimea's so-called "self-defense" forces -- were behind the takeover, but President Turchynov's statement suggests Russian forces were also involved.

After the seizure, which faced no resistance from Ukrainian servicemen, Ukraine's security chief said the country has drawn up plans to evacuate its outnumbered military personnel from the Crimean peninsula.

In announcing the withdrawal, Andriy Parubiy -- secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council -- said Kyiv will seek United Nations support in turning the peninsula into a demilitarized zone. He also said Ukraine is planning to hold military maneuvers "with our allies," but did not elaborate.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told reporters in Lithuania Wednesday that Russia will face "increasing political and economic isolation" as long as it continues on what he called "its dark path."

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