News / Europe

    Russian Officials Call for Talks with Ukraine’s New President

    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a ceremony to mark African Day in Moscow May 22, 2014.
    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a ceremony to mark African Day in Moscow May 22, 2014.
    James Brooke
    For weeks, Russian officials cast doubt on Ukraine’s presidential election.  But on Sunday voting took place peacefully in 90 percent of the country, and with most of the votes counted Petro Poroshenko has clearly won more than 50 percent and a first-round victory.  
     
    On Monday Russian officials recognized the legitimacy of Ukraine’s presidential election, saying the Kremlin would negotiate with the winner.
     
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters his words reflect the thinking of President Vladimir Putin.

    He said, "We are ready for dialogue with Kyiv representatives, ready for dialogue with Petro Poroshenko.”
     
    Ukraine’s president-elect acknowledged Russia as “our biggest neighbor” and said he planned to travel to there in the first half of June for peace talks with Russian officials.  Ukrainian officials charge Russia is backing separatists with arms and military advisers.
     
    Carnegie Moscow analyst Maria Lipman says Putin’s goal is to force Ukraine to stay within Moscow’s orbit.

    “Russia has huge leverage in Ukraine, and can make life in Ukraine more difficult.  It is also unlikely to help Ukraine normalize. Russia has a priority.  And its priority is to prevent Ukraine from falling in the Western orbit,” said Lipman.

    Russia is threatening to cut off gas sales to Ukraine if a debt of $3.5 billion is not paid by next Sunday.  With Ukraine in a deep economic recession, the issue of unpaid Russian gas bills will become increasingly critical when cold weather returns.
     
    Kyiv has its own levers of influence.  After Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in March, it cut off water flows and train traffic to the peninsula.  As the peak tourism season unfolds, Crimean hotels report disastrously low bookings.
     
    Ukraine’s president-elect also signaled to Moscow he has friends in the region, saying his first foreign trip will be to Poland.

    New York University Russia analyst Mark Galeotti says it will become increasingly costly for Russia to support Crimea, and a guerrilla insurgency in a neighboring state.   He spoke of southeastern Ukraine, a region some separatists want to call Novorossiya, or New Russia.

    “If Moscow reaches in and creates some kind of a puppet, pseudo-state of Novorossiya or whatever else, first of all, it will inevitably have to make sure that this is going to be a politically stable unit.  It can not cope with essentially a civil war on its own borders.  So it is signing up for a quite substantial economic, political, and possibly military commitment,” said Galeotti.

    Instead, the Kremlin appears to want Ukraine to survive as a single nation, but under a looser, federal system that would allow Russia to influence eastern Ukraine.  These areas have close historic, economic, and linguistic ties with Russia.

    The Kremlin is also dead set against Ukraine joining NATO.

    Ukraine’s president-elect will face a difficult diplomatic path, trying to accommodate his powerful neighbor to the east while not alienating his overwhelmingly pro-Western electoral base.

    Lipman says military forces unleashed in southeastern Ukraine may resist control by political leaders in Kyiv and Moscow.

    “Russia has created a new reality, new facts on the ground.  Russia has become proactive, not reactive in its relations with the West, making moves that had not been expected, and keeping the Western governments in a state of uncertainty and tension, not knowing what next to expect,” she said.

    On Saturday in St. Petersburg, Putin dined with foreign reporters, pointedly serving them fish from Crimea.  When one reporter reminded him of President Obama's denunciation of Russia's annexation of Crimea, Putin snapped, "No one should talk like that to Russia!"

    Ukraine’s president-elect Petro Poroshenko says he is “well acquainted” with Russia’s leader, but the coming weeks loom as a test of this relationship.

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.