World News

Russian Fighter Jets Patrolling Ukraine Border

Russia sent fighter jets to patrol its border with Ukraine on Thursday, as fast-paced developments threatened to undermine the new Ukrainian government in Kyiv.

Gunmen seized control of government buildings in Crimea, a Ukrainian region with strong ties to Moscow and home to a Russian naval base in Sevastopol. The gunmen raised the Russian tri-color flag.

Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, on Thursday warned the military leadership of the Sevastopol-based Russian Black Sea Fleet that any movements of Russian forces outside the base would be considered "military aggression."

For its part, Crimea's parliament, whose building was among those seized by pro-Russian gunmen, voted Thursday to dismiss the region's government and to hold a referendum to determine Crimea's status in Ukraine. The referendum is set for May 25, the same day Ukraine will hold a presidential election.

Ethnic Russians account for 58 percent of Crimea's population.

Meanwhile, Russian news agencies reported that Moscow had granted ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's request for personal security "on Russian territory," but provided no other details. They also reported that Mr. Yanukovych will hold a press conference Friday in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney called on Russia to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and avoid "provocative" actions.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday he had spoken to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who assured him that large-scale Russian military exercises near the Ukrainian border were previously scheduled and not connected to the unrest in Ukraine.

Still, Kerry said during a news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier that "everybody needs to step back and avoid provocations."

Earlier Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Moscow to not take any action on Ukraine that could be misinterpreted.

In Kyiv, the parliament approved former economic minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the country's new prime minister. He accused the Yanukovych government of stealing vast sums from state coffers, leaving the country in severe financial straits.

Mr. Yatsenyuk said $70 billion in Ukrainian government money had been sent to offshore accounts over the last three years and that $37 billion of credit it had received has disappeared.

He said, "I want to report to you. The state treasury has been robbed and is empty."

Mr. Yanukovych released a statement to Russian news agencies from an undisclosed location saying that he still considers himself Ukraine's head of state. He has not been seen in public since Saturday, when Ukraine's parliament voted to dismiss him and set early elections for May 25.

Crimea has been the scene of confrontations between supporters of Ukraine's new government and pro-Russia activists. The region is mainly made up of Russian speakers who support Moscow but is also home to Ukrainians and to minority Muslim Tatars who are generally anti-Russia.

Yatsenyuk is a pro-Western former foreign minister and economy minister. One of his first major jobs would be preventing the Ukrainian economy from collapse.

The White House says it strongly supports Ukrainian leaders as they work to form a multiparty government to represent all Ukrainians. It calls a broad-based government committed to reconciliation the necessary foundation for international aid.

Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. is considering $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the military exercises launched Wednesday were to check "readiness to deal with crisis situations that threaten the nation's military security."

Anti-government demonstrations erupted three months ago in Ukraine when Mr. Yanukovych backed out of a European Union trade deal in favor of economic aid from Russia. The violence escalated last week, leaving nearly 100 people dead.

Ukraine's interim leaders have dissolved an elite security force accused of carrying out some of those deadly attacks on protesters.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs