News / Europe

    Separatists Shoot Down Ukrainian Helicopter

    A member of a newly-formed pro-Russian armed group called the Russian Orthodox Army mans a barricade near Donetsk airport, May 29, 2014.
    A member of a newly-formed pro-Russian armed group called the Russian Orthodox Army mans a barricade near Donetsk airport, May 29, 2014.
    VOA News
    The White House says Thursday's shootdown of a government helicopter by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine indicates rebels have access "to advanced weaponry and other assistance from outside."

    Spokesman Jay Carney's comments came just hours after Ukraine's acting president said rebels downed the aircraft with a shoulder-launched missile.  He said 14 servicemen, including a general, died in the attack near the flashpoint eastern city of Slovyansk.

    Separately, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry raised concerns Thursday with his Russian counterpart about the ongoing violence, and about reports of foreign fighters crossing into Ukraine from Russian territory.

    During a phone call, Kerry pressed Russia's Sergei Lavrov to end support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and to call on them to lay down their weapons, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters during Thursday’s briefing.

    In other developments, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel noted a partial pullback of Russian troops massed along the Ukraine border - a move he called "a positive step."  But he also said thousands of troops remain, and he called on Moscow to complete the full withdrawal it announced earlier this month.

    Despite weeks of Kremlin denials, Russia's state-controlled news agency Ria Novosti said 33 of the estimated 50 rebel fighters killed Monday in Donetsk in a battle with Ukrainian troops came from Russia.

    The news agency quoted the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic as saying the bodies of the foreigners have been identified and returned to their relatives.
    Black smoke rises from a shot down Ukrainian Army helicopter outside Slovyansk, Ukraine, May 29, 2014.Black smoke rises from a shot down Ukrainian Army helicopter outside Slovyansk, Ukraine, May 29, 2014.
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    Black smoke rises from a shot down Ukrainian Army helicopter outside Slovyansk, Ukraine, May 29, 2014.
    Black smoke rises from a shot down Ukrainian Army helicopter outside Slovyansk, Ukraine, May 29, 2014.


    OSCE monitors

    Meanwhile, a separatist leader in Slovyansk acknowledged that his group detained four European observers who have been missing since Monday.
     
    Vyacheslav Ponomaryov said the the observers from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had been warned to stay away from the area, but would be freed soon.
     
    Michael Bociurkiw, spokesman for the OSCE mission to Ukraine, told VOA the mission has not had contact with the group since Monday, but is hopeful for their release.
     
    Bociurkiw said the team was working a few hours east of Donetsk when contact with them was lost.
     
    A day earlier, 11 OSCE monitors were detained in the same area, but released after several hours.
     
    He said they were monitoring human rights abuses, the erection of checkpoints and the general security situation.
     
    According to Bociurkiw,  said in the past two to three weeks, the OSCE has seen an escalation in military activity in Donetsk and the neighboring Luhansk region.
     
    “In Luhansk right now we've documented the existence of about 40 armed groups that compose about 1,000 individuals and our monitors estimate that they could recruit another 4,000 more,” said Bociurkiw.

    Swiss OSCE chairman Didier Burkhalter said in a statement Wednesday the detentions are undermining the group's work and amounted to "acts of sabotage" against international efforts to help Ukraine overcome the months-long crisis.

    Russia turns up rhetoric

    Expressing “deep concern” and warning of a “catastrophe” in Ukraine, Moscow called on Kyiv Thursday to stop its military operation in the eastern part of the country.

    “Once again, we demand from the Kyiv authorities to stop the fratricidal war, start a real national dialogue with all political forces and representatives of the country’s regions to find a way out of the deepening crisis in Ukraine,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    Calling for the implementation of the April 17 Geneva Accords on de-escalating the crisis in Ukraine, Moscow also urged Western countries to use all of their influence “to stop Ukraine’s slide toward a national catastrophe.”

    The Ukrainian government and President-elect Petro Poroshenko have defied Moscow’s calls accusing it of fueling the very separatist unrest that has caused the current crisis. Russia denies the charge.

    Meanwhile, a top advisor for President Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. of trying to stoke a military conflict between Europe and Russia over Ukraine for its own economic benefit.

    “Now they [the United States] are unfurling a war in Ukraine, after organizing a coup and putting their own people in charge, to use Ukraine as a detonator against Russia and Europe,” said Sergei Glazyev, an economic adviser to Putin. The U.S. has dismissed similar charges as groundless.

    Glazyev said that the U.S. has benefited from past wars in Europe.

    Official election results

    Petro Poroshenko officially won Ukraine’s presidential elections in the first round, garnering 54.7 percent of all votes cast, the country’s Central Election Commission announced.

    It posted election results on its website Thursday saying it had completed the vote count.
    Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko speaks at a news conference in Kyiv, May 26, 2014.Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko speaks at a news conference in Kyiv, May 26, 2014.
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    Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko speaks at a news conference in Kyiv, May 26, 2014.
    Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko speaks at a news conference in Kyiv, May 26, 2014.


    Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko came in second with 12.81 percent of the vote. Twenty other candidates had competed in Sunday’s poll.

    Of 18 million voters who took part in the election nearly ten million supported Poroshenko, a confectionery tycoon and former foreign minister. Turnout was listed at close to 60 percent.

    According to official results, Poroshenko, 48, garnered a plurality of votes in all of Ukraine’s regions, even in restive Donetsk and Luhansk.

    His inauguration will take place on the “Maidan,” Kyiv’s Independence Square, a statement by Ukraine’s acting president said. It was the site of massive anti-government protests, which toppled Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych in February.

    No date has been officially announced.

    Poroshenko is due to participate in D-Day observances in France next week, which will also be attended by other world leaders, including Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin.

    Gas talks

    With a threat of Moscow cutting off gas supplies to Ukraine looming, talks between Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission, will go ahead on Friday, the EU executive body announced Thursday.

    The Commission has already brokered two rounds of talks following Moscow's threat to stop supplying Ukraine with gas if it fails to make a pre-payment for June supplies by June 2.

    Ukraine wants the price for 2014 to be agreed before it starts making any payments, including on its debt, which Russia’s Gazprom says will have risen to $5.2 billion by June 7.

    Kyiv has countered that Gazprom owes it around $1 billion for gas following Russia's annexation of Crimea.
     
    Ukraine is also the transit country for about half of the gas Russia sells to the European Union, so the dispute threatens supplies to Europe.

    VOA's Gabe Joselow contributed to this story from Kyiv. Some reporting by Reuters, AP.
     

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    Comments page of 2
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    by: Petro from: Ukraine
    June 01, 2014 5:28 AM
    It is typical KGB tactics to do something wrong on behalf of rival part: “shelling innocents in civilian areas at random”, flooding the East of Ukraine with insurgents demonstrated resistance of civilians to acting government, shooting unarmed protesters and police in Maidan 18-19 February saying it was protesters who did this, send provocateurs-troublemakers masked as Right Sector members, blasting blocks of flats in Volgodonsk and Moscow saying it was Chechen rebels, killing 22 000 Poland officers in 1939 and saying it was Germans who did this… And all that Moscow doing under the ringing of frenzy lying the official propaganda. Putin! What idiot trusts you? Stop killing innocent people of Ukraine!!!

    by: greatukr from: RF
    May 30, 2014 2:52 AM
    Maybe try to stop the ATO in the East of Ukraine? Then and there the separatists will keep a gun in his hand.


    by: Vovan from: Central Ukraine
    May 30, 2014 2:31 AM
    The so-called separatism of Southeast of Ukraine is none other than pretext of direct intervention from Russia in the internal affairs of Ukraine. Russia denies a right for the Ukrainian people independently to manage the own fate. The Ukrainian people consider itself European nation. The Ukrainian people do not wish to depend on Horde's Russia. To beginning of Maydan the russian-like mood in the indicated districts absented practically.
    What be going on in Ukraine is the special operation of Putin.
    As well as Crimea, by the way.
    Putin is second Hitler
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    May 31, 2014 2:19 PM
    Actually, Russia doesn't need Ukraine,bcos it's nothing but buffer-zone. And! Crimeans did their choice.It's not your business, Vovan from Central Ukraine.

    by: melwin from: India
    May 29, 2014 10:38 PM
    Now America should stop supporting Ukraine .

    by: Hong Ha from: Vietnam
    May 29, 2014 10:19 PM
    Anyone who kills innocent civilians is terrorist, including Ukrainian troops and those who order them to do so.

    by: jonathan huang from: canada
    May 29, 2014 1:33 PM
    stop killing your own ppl, Kyev! stop the oppression against those freedom fighters!
    the east Ukrainians have their right to choose their own life! leave them alone!
    In Response

    by: Vovan from: Central Ukraine
    May 30, 2014 2:57 AM
    You are Russian! It is visible on transcription, as you write a word Kiev. We,Ukrainians, write Kyiv.)))
    Russians, as you to us, to Ukrainians, bothered! You climb and climb in our house, in our life, deny our right to be without you!
    In Response

    by: Vovan from: Central Ukraine
    May 30, 2014 2:48 AM
    As interestingly!)))
    The Ukrainian people on the whole did the historical choice as early as 1991. Putin waited a moment to steal from Ukrainians their own country, to steal Ukrainians' right indipendantly take decisions. Putin did not acknowledge self-determination of the Ukrainian people, which they had do in 1991, so.
    Russians have the perverted interpretation of essence of democracy as such.

    by: El from: Russia
    May 29, 2014 12:13 PM
    Answer, please, why you don't write that soldiery of Ukrainian National Guards killed children and the olds in eastern Ukraine? Why you don't write that non-combatants suffer! And pro-Russian separatists aren't to blame for it!
    In Response

    by: greatukr from: RF
    May 30, 2014 2:34 AM
    to Anonymous:
    I'm too shy to ask-and those people on Maidan in Kyiv, they were without gun? They do not violate the laws of Ukraine? Following your logic, they had to kill half a year ago.

    Capiche?
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    May 29, 2014 1:53 PM
    Anyone bearing arms other than the Ukrainian military is definitely to blame. They are breaking the laws of Ukraine, therefore should be dealt with accordingly. Lets pretend these militants occupied the Kremlin, Putin would order them killed.

    Capiche?

    by: meanbill from: USA
    May 29, 2014 10:14 AM
    (DO YOU HEAR ME NOW?) -- Do you want to fight a war for (40) years or more, or do you want to sit down and drink tea together, and NEGOTIATE? --
    IF the pro-Russian separatists possess shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, they must also possess shoulder fired anti-tank missiles, and that's a game changer, in this expanding war. -- "Those who foresee and prepare for ever changing battlefield conditions, win the battles" -- "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu

    by: Vovan from: Ukraine
    May 29, 2014 10:05 AM
    Among destroyed during a fight for air-port of Donetsk on May, 26 hits were already known 33 gangsters from Russia. About it declared one of leaders of terrorists Oleksandr Boroday, write RIA of "Novosti". "The all lost is known. On Thursday we from a morgue send 33 men to relatives. We have contacts with all relatives", - he said. As known, on May, 26 forces of ATO conducted an operation from a release from the terrorists of air-port "Donetsk".
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    May 29, 2014 1:54 PM
    They will likely, and presumably find they are all from Russia.
    This is only going to put Putin more in hot water.

    by: Vovan from: Ukraine
    May 29, 2014 9:39 AM
    In the National household troops declare, that the group of hits, which hammered down the Ukrainian helicopter MI-8 under Slov''yansk (Donetsk obl.), is destroyed as a result of anti-terror operation. "In reply to the actions of terrorists by forces of anti-terror operation artillery and aviation bombardment of territory from where a fire was conducted was carried out, as a result - the group of criminals, participating to the fire of helicopter, was destroyed", - it is said in a report.

    On the whole 4500 Russian terrorists illegally crossed a border and operate in Ukraine as gangsters. They use the newest armament of the Russian production.
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