World News

Ukraine Calls Up Reservists as PM Warns of Looming 'Disaster'

Ukraine's interim government ordered a full military mobilization Sunday, in an effort to counter what its new prime minister says is a Russian act of war.

In an address to parliament, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned that "we are on the brink of disaster." He spoke as Russian troops bolstered their presence on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, and Western governments issued repeated condemnations of the Russian deployments.

With Russian forces surrounding Ukrainian airports and military bases, Germany said Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed with Chancellor Angela Merkel to set up a fact-finding mission on Ukraine.

A German government spokesman did not provide details. But he said the mission and an accompanying "contact group" aimed at generating Ukrainian-Russian dialogue could be led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe -- the continent's largest conflict management and crisis prevention group.



Earlier Sunday, Russian news agencies said President Vladimir Putin told U.S. President Barack Obama late Saturday that Moscow reserves the right to protect ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

In Kyiv, prosecutors have opened a treason case against the newly appointed head of Ukraine's Black Sea fleet, after he renounced his post and swore allegiance to pro-Russian leaders in Crimea. Authorities said Admiral Denis Berezovsky, appointed Saturday, offered no resistance later in the day when his headquarters in Sevastopol were surrounded by Russian troops.

Elsewhere Sunday, Russia's Interfax news agency quoted Crimean parliament speaker Volodymyr Konstanynov as saying parliament will decide Monday on the date of a Crimean referendum that will give voters a choice between independence from Ukraine, continued autonomy within Ukraine or annexation by Russia. The vote was originally set for May 25, but the report said it could be moved up to March 30.

In Washington, President Obama spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski in a separate phone calls. The leaders expressed ``grave concern'' over Russia's intrusion into Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry blasted the Russian deployments, calling them "an incredible act of aggression." He warned of potential economic sanctions against Moscow for military actions he likened to "19th century" behavior on a "completely trumped-up pretext." Officials in Washington say Kerry will travel to Ukraine on Tuesday to meet with its new leaders and lawmakers, and to restate U.S. economic and diplomatic support for Ukraine.

Also Sunday, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. to demand Russians leave Ukraine alone.

Ukraine's top security official, Andriy Paruby, says military reservists are mobilized to "ensure the security and territorial integrity of Ukraine." But many Western analysts are questioning the effectiveness of the call-up, saying Ukraine's limited military capabilities are no match for Russian military might.

At the United Nations, the Secretary-General has asked his deputy Jan Eliasson to travel to Ukraine immediately to ascertain the situation on the ground.

Ukrainian Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev said 15,000 Russian troops are already in Crimea. His Russian counterpart, Vitaly Churkin, blamed the West for ratcheting up tensions in Ukraine and backing protests that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych last month.

Crimea is a Black Sea peninsula placed under Ukrainian control in 1954 by then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It became part of Ukraine when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Crimea 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 Tatars who generally show disdain for Russia.

Ukraine's troubles began in November when President Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties and economic aid from Russia. The move triggered weeks of pro-Western demonstrations in Kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine, and forced the pro-Russian Yanukovych to flee the capital in late February.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
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 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 Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
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 Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
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 Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs