World News

Russian Parliament Approves Use of Troops in Ukraine's Crimea Region

The Russian parliament has approved President Vladimir Putin's request to use the Russian military in Ukraine's Crimea region, further raising tensions between the neighbors.

Saturday's vote made official what Ukraine's newly-established interim government has described as an ongoing deployment of Russian troops in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said the approval Mr. Putin received does not mean he will immediately act on it.

Mr. Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Russian president has not yet decided whether to use troops in Ukraine and will make the decision based on how the situation develops. He said Mr. Putin has also yet to decide whether to recall Moscow's ambassador to the United States.

The United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency meeting on Ukraine Saturday, while European Union foreign ministers will hold emergency talks in Brussels on Monday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman said Saturday the U.N. chief is "gravely concerned about the deterioration of the situation" in Crimea and "reiterates his call for the full respect" for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.



The U.S. has also urged Russia to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity. And it was after U.S. President Barack Obama warned of consequences if Russia intervenes militarily in Ukraine that Russia's upper house of parliament recommended Saturday that Mr. Putin recall the Russian ambassador from Washington.

Crimea, part of Ukraine since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, has become the focus of turmoil that began months ago when Ukraine's now-ousted president Viktor Yanukovych rejected a deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.

As the tensions surrounding Crimea escalated Saturday, pro-Russian protesters clashed violently with supporters of the new Ukrainian government in Ukraine's eastern city of Kharkiv.

Earlier Saturday, the newly appointed pro-Russian prime minister of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, claimed control of the region's military and other security forces. He appealed to Mr. Putin for help in restoring "peace and calm."

Ukraine's newly appointed prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, meanwhile, demanded Saturday that Russia stop what he called its "provocations" in Crimea, and said the Ukrainian military in the majority Russian area is on high alert.

Russia has said its troop movements in Crimea, where it leases a naval base in Sevastopol, conform to agreements with Ukraine. But Ukraine's acting defense minister said 6,000 additional Russian troops have been deployed on Ukrainian soil.

Ukraine also has refused to recognize the Crimean prime minister, with acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov issuing a statement declaring Mr. Aksyonov's appointment a violation of Ukraine's constitution.

Mr. Aksyonov was appointed by the Crimean parliament as tensions soared over Crimea's resistance to the new authorities in Kyiv.

VOA correspondent Elizabeth Arrott says unidentified soldiers and military vehicles have appeared in the Crimean region, well beyond their local base. She said at least a dozen were stationed outside parliament in the Crimean capital of Simferopol on Saturday. She also said she saw gunmen in camouflage at the Simferopol airport Friday.

There also are reports of Russian troops surrounding the state-run television station in Simferopol.

The head of Russia's upper house of parliament said Saturday she could not rule out the possibility that a limited contingent of troops could be sent to Crimea to ensure the security of the Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol and Russian citizens living in the region.

Crimea, placed under Ukrainian control in 1943 by then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, has a tiny border with Russia on its far eastern point. Most of the people living in Crimea are ethnic Russians, but the region also is home to ethnic Muslim Tartars who generally show disdain toward Russia.

Ukrainian President Turchynov on Friday called Russian actions in Crimea "naked aggression." He likened the actions to events that led up to Russia's 2008 invasion of Abkhazia - a pro-Russian region of Georgia.

In another development Saturday, Russia's Energy Ministry threatened not to continue Ukraine's gas price discount because of Ukraine's unpaid balance. Gazprom said Saturday that Ukraine's outstanding gas debt for 2013 and this year is $1.55 billion.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs