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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs