News / Europe

Kerry Heading to Ukraine as Russia Tightens Grip on Crimea

  • Pro-Russian irregulars form self defense units in Crimea's capital, Simferopol, Ukriane, March 2, 2014. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA).
  • Ukrainian sailors prepare their anti-submarine ship "Ternopil" in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine, March 2, 2014. 
  • Ukraine mobilised on Sunday for war and called up its reserves, after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to invade in the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War. Pictured here is a Zubr Class air cushion landing craft at the port of the Crimean port city of Feodosiya, Ukraine, March 2, 2014.


  • Unidentified gunmen guard Ukraine's infantry base in Privolnoye, Ukraine, March 2, 2014. 
  • A convoy of hundreds of Russian troops headed toward the regional capital of Ukraine's Crimea region, a day after Russia's forces took over the strategic Black Sea peninsula without firing a shot. Pictured here, a Russian convoy moves from Sevastopol to Sinferopol in the Crimea, Ukraine, March 2, 2014. 




  • Soldiers without insignia guard buildings in the Crimean capital, a day after the Crimean prime minister called for Russian help, Simferopol, Ukraine, March 2, 2014. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA).
  • People mourn at a make-shift memorial for those killed in recent violence at Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, March 2, 2014. 
  • A Crimean self-defense group with shields painted as the flag of the contested Ukrainian autonomous republic, Simferopol, Ukraine, March 2, 2014. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
  • The Russian naval landing vessel "Georgiy Pobedonosets" enters one of the bays of Sevastopol, Ukraine, March 2, 2014. 
  • People gather during a rally in Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, March 2, 2014. 
  • People hold photos of their relatives killed during recent clashes during a rally in Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, March 2, 2014.
  • Military personnel stand next to an armored personnel carrier (APC) in the Crimean port city of Feodosiya, Ukraine, March 2, 2014.
  • War and peace: as Russia mobilizes troops in Ukraine's Crimea, some in the regional capital enjoy a Sunday stroll, Simferopol, Ukraine, March 2, 2014. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
VOA News
Secretary of State John Kerry will be heading to Kyiv Monday for discussions there Tuesday, the U.S. top diplomat tweeted as Russia continued to assert increasing control over Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

"Secretary Kerry will meet with senior representatives of Ukraine’s new government, leaders of the Rada (Ukraine's parliament), and members of civil society. The Secretary will reaffirm the United States' strong support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, without outside interference or provocation," says a statement by the U.S. State Department.


Quoting a senior U.S. government official, the New York Times reports that the trip will be a gesture of support for the new Ukrainian government.

Also on Sunday, President Barack Obama spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, according to senior administration officials. The purpose of the talks, they said, was to re-state the "complete illegitimacy" of Russian action in Ukraine and discuss available responses.
 
According to the officials, the U.S. and its allies are looking into offering an "off-ramp" if Moscow chooses to pursue its concerns diplomatically. International tools, they said, are available to President Vladimir Putin to address concerns about the safety of ethnic Russians, such as through the United Nations and/or through monitors from the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe.

G-7 condemns Russia

The Group of Seven major industrialized nations (G-7) on Sunday condemned Russia's intrusion into Ukraine and canceled for now preparations for the G-8 summit that includes Russia and had been scheduled to take place in Sochi in June, the White House said.

”We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission, join together today to condemn the Russian Federation's clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” the G7 said in a statement.

We have decided for the time being to suspend our participation in activities associated with the preparation of the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in June,” the group said.

Ukraine mobilizes forces

Meanwhile, Ukraine has ordered a full military mobilization after Russian lawmakers authorized the deployment of troops on Ukraine territory.

Ukraine's new prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said the Russian decision is a declaration of war. The pro-Western government in Kyiv, which ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych last month, has appealed to the international community for help.

Prime Minister Yatsenyuk said in an address from parliament Sunday "we are on the brink of disaster" and called for Russia to pull back its military and abide by international obligations.  Up to one million army reservists are to report to duty on Monday. 

In Washington, Secretary Kerry on Sunday condemned Russia's “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine and threatened economic sanctions by the United States and allies to isolate Moscow, but called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
 
“You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext,” Kerry told the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

News agencies in Moscow report Russian President Vladimir Putin told U.S. President Obama, in a Saturday telephone call, Moscow reserves the right to protect ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Situation in Crimea

Russian and pro-Russian forces appear in control of much of Crimea.  The autonomous Ukrainian republic, home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet, has an ethnic Russian majority and has historic ties to Moscow.  

Unidentified soldiers, widely believed to be Russian troops, took up positions around Simferopol.  Ukrainian soldiers and police seen on the streets appeared to be following an order from the region's pro-Russian prime minister to fall under his command or resign.

Russian political party flags and a Soviet banner fly at a war memorial in Crimea's capital, Simferopol, Ukraine, March 2, 2014. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)Russian political party flags and a Soviet banner fly at a war memorial in Crimea's capital, Simferopol, Ukraine, March 2, 2014. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
x
Russian political party flags and a Soviet banner fly at a war memorial in Crimea's capital, Simferopol, Ukraine, March 2, 2014. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
Russian political party flags and a Soviet banner fly at a war memorial in Crimea's capital, Simferopol, Ukraine, March 2, 2014. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
Reports that Russian troops had surrounded several Ukrainian military bases on the peninsula added to the tensions, though there appears to be no direct conflict.

In a news conference Sunday, local parliament speaker Vladimir Konstantinov claimed the situation had "stabilized."

He dismissed the legitimacy of the new government in Kyiv, characterizing it as composed of extremists.

In Kyiv, meanwhile, 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 Denys Berezovsky, appointed Saturday, offered no resistance later in the day when his headquarters in Sevastopol were surrounded by Russian troops.

While the events in Crimea have as yet proved bloodless, fears are rising that in eastern Ukraine, with sizable factions both pro- and anti-Russian, any movement of Russian troops would provoke a far more inflammatory reaction.

NATO warning 

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Ramussen warned Moscow on Sunday it was threatening peace in Europe with its seizure of Crimea. He said NATO supports the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their future.  He said Ukraine is a "valued" NATO partner and urged Russia to "de-escalate" the tension in the region.

Ukraine withdrew its coast guard vessels from two ports in Crimea and moved them to other Black Sea bases on Sunday. 

Ukraine's border guard said in a statement that vessels from the Crimean ports of Kerch and Sevastopol had been moved to Odessa and Mariupol. The situation on Ukraine's frontiers was stable apart from in Crimea, the statement said.

Putin has declared he has the right to invade Ukraine to protect Russian citizens. Russian forces have seized Crimea, where they have a naval base at Sevastopol, but have not entered other parts of Ukraine.

On Saturday President Obama said the United States is suspending participation in meetings to prepare for the G8 economic summit later this year in Sochi, Russia.

Obama said the appropriate way to address this matter is by direct engagement with the Ukrainian government and through international monitors.

Armed servicemen wait near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava, March 1, 2014.Armed servicemen wait near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava, March 1, 2014.
x
Armed servicemen wait near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava, March 1, 2014.
Armed servicemen wait near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava, March 1, 2014.
The Pentagon says Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu Saturday.  Officials say Hagel told Shoygu that without a change on the ground, Russia is risking more regional instability, global isolation, and an escalation that would threaten European and international security.

NATO ambassadors met Sunday in Brussels to discuss Ukraine.  A meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission was also scheduled.

Ukraine's U.N. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev pauses during a news conference following an U.N. Security Council meeting on his country's political crisis, Saturday, March 1, 2014, in the United Nations headquarters.Ukraine's U.N. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev pauses during a news conference following an U.N. Security Council meeting on his country's political crisis, Saturday, March 1, 2014, in the United Nations headquarters.
x
Ukraine's U.N. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev pauses during a news conference following an U.N. Security Council meeting on his country's political crisis, Saturday, March 1, 2014, in the United Nations headquarters.
Ukraine's U.N. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev pauses during a news conference following an U.N. Security Council meeting on his country's political crisis, Saturday, March 1, 2014, in the United Nations headquarters.
In New York, the United Nations said now is the time for "cool heads to prevail."  

Ukrainian Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev told the Security Council that 15,000 Russian troops are already in Crimea under the pretense of protecting Russian citizens.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin blamed the West for ratcheting up tensions in Ukraine and backing protests that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych last month.


Russia has said its troop movements in Crimea, where it leases a naval base in Sevastopol, conform to agreements with Ukraine.  

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 Tartars who generally show disdain toward Russia.

Rallies in Russia
Police officers detain a protester in central Manezhnaya Square in Moscow, on March 2, 2014, during an unsanctioned rally against the Russia's military actions in Crimea.Police officers detain a protester in central Manezhnaya Square in Moscow, on March 2, 2014, during an unsanctioned rally against the Russia's military actions in Crimea.
x
Police officers detain a protester in central Manezhnaya Square in Moscow, on March 2, 2014, during an unsanctioned rally against the Russia's military actions in Crimea.
Police officers detain a protester in central Manezhnaya Square in Moscow, on March 2, 2014, during an unsanctioned rally against the Russia's military actions in Crimea.
​In Moscow and St. Petersburg, thousands of people turned out for officially sponsored demonstrations supporting Russia’s military thrust into Crimea.
 
Smaller anti-war demonstrations took place in both cities, resulting in about 300 arrests.
 
Public opinion polls in Russia indicate that majorities of people here believe that the Ukraine’s largely Russian speaking peninsula should belong to Russia. Hints emerged Sunday as to Russia’s goal in Crimea.
 
Russian state news agency reported that a referendum scheduled for March 30 in Crimea will give voters the choice of: independence, continued autonomy within Ukraine, or annexation by Russia.
 
On a parallel track, Russia’s Duma is to debate next week a new law that would make it easier for Russia to absorb new territories. Under this legislation, local referendums would trump international treaties.

VOA's Scott Stearns contributed to this report from Washington. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott contributed from Simferopol, Ukraine. VOA's Jim Brooke contributed from Moscow.
 

You May Like

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Fake, Substandard Medicines Pose Global Challenge

So-called 'fake drugs' include expired medicines, those with manufacturing defects, and bogus tablets More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs