News / Europe

Explosions Echo in East Ukraine as Russia Slams EU Sanctions

Wreckage from Malaysia Airline MH17 near the Ukrainian village of Hrabovo, July 26, 2014. Nearly 300 people, 193 of them Dutch citizens, were killed when the plane was brought down in eastern Ukraine, where separatists are battling government forces.Wreckage from Malaysia Airline MH17 near the Ukrainian village of Hrabovo, July 26, 2014. Nearly 300 people, 193 of them Dutch citizens, were killed when the plane was brought down in eastern Ukraine, where separatists are battling government forces.
x
Wreckage from Malaysia Airline MH17 near the Ukrainian village of Hrabovo, July 26, 2014. Nearly 300 people, 193 of them Dutch citizens, were killed when the plane was brought down in eastern Ukraine, where separatists are battling government forces.
Wreckage from Malaysia Airline MH17 near the Ukrainian village of Hrabovo, July 26, 2014. Nearly 300 people, 193 of them Dutch citizens, were killed when the plane was brought down in eastern Ukraine, where separatists are battling government forces.
Mike Eckel

Fighting neared Donetsk Saturday, and explosions were heard within the rebel-controlled eastern city as the Ukrainian army pressed insurgents who have bolstered defenses after a string of defeats.

Russia, meanwhile, angrily criticized new sanctions imposed by the European Union following the downing of Malaysia Airline Flight 17, which crashed July 17 not far from Donetsk. U.S. and Ukrainian officials said a sophisticated Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile downed the plane, possibly fired by Russian-backed rebels.

Ukraine’s military have racked up a string of victories in recent weeks, forcing rebels to retreat to major population centers, including Luhansk and Donetsk, the largest city in the country’s southeast.

Troops retook Lysychansk, a strategically important city about 75 miles northwest of Luhansk, and on Saturday Ukrainian forces were outside Horlikva, just north of the regional center of Donetsk, according to Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s national security council.

Once they can take Horlivka, “the direct route is open for the forces of the anti-terrorist operation to the capital of the Donbass region ... the city of Donetsk,” Lysenko was quoted as saying. “The approaches to Donetsk are being blocked so that the terrorists do not get the chance to receive ammunition, reinforcements or equipment.”

U.S. officials have accused Russia of massing more troops on its border, and firing artillery into Ukraine in recent days, most likely in a bid to prevent Ukrainian troops from sealing the border and cutting off weapon supplies to rebels.

According to reports by Reuter, "the Red Cross recently made a confidential legal assessment that Ukraine is officially in a civil war, opening the door to possible war crimes prosecutions, including over the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH-17."

Russia's Foreign Ministry says the United States is among those responsible for the conflict in Ukraine because of its strong support of the Kyiv government. Russia accuses Washington of pushing Kyiv to repress Ukraine's Russian-speaking population. 

U.S. President Barack Obama says Russia has supplied heavy weapons and know-how to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, and that it is likely the rebels used a missile to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines jet July 17 over eastern Ukraine.

Shelling was heard around Donetsk early Saturday. It was not immediately unclear what the damage or casualties were, but residents reported being awoken by heavy explosions.

"Last night was terrible. I was woken up at 3 a.m. by the explosions. The walls shook, the windows shook," Marina, who lives in a southern part of the city, told Reuters. "There was shooting all over the city. And it still goes on. Maybe it's a little quieter now, but it's all around."

Local officials said some buildings had been damaged, one by fire, and one woman was wounded.

In Western capitals, officials had hoped that the crash of Flight 17, the 298 victims killed and the sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union might signal a turning point in the four-month-old Russian-backed insurgency.

Instead, Moscow appears to have accelerated the supply of newer weapons and equipment across the border, and bolstered the size of forces in border regions, according to U.S. officials.

The U.S. Defense Department warned that "heavier caliber, more capable" Russian artillery systems have been seen moving closer to the Ukrainian border. The systems being moved are surface-to-surface systems for use in ground fighting, not surface-to-air systems, department spokesman Steve Warren told reporters Friday.

On Saturday, Britain's Foreign Office accused Russia of making "contradictory, mutually exclusive claims" in blaming Ukraine for the tragedy and said it was "highly likely" the separatists had brought the plane down with a Russian-supplied missile.

Two top German officials spoke out in favor of the new EU sanctions, which some member nations have criticized as being too weak.

"After the death of 300 innocent people in the MH17 crash and the disrespectful roaming around the crash site of marauding soldiers, the behavior of Russia leaves us no other choice," Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany told Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in an interview published Saturday.

"We remain true to our course: cleverly calibrated and mutually agreed measures to raise the pressure and … a willingness to have serious talks with Russia," he was quoted as saying.

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, meanwhile, told the Spiegel weekly in comments due to be published on Sunday that the sanctions should above all hit Russia's oligarchs, arguing that the country's political system rested on them.

"We must freeze their (bank) accounts in European capitals and deny them the ability to travel," Gabriel was quoted as saying.

Moscow Denounces New EU Sanctions

In Moscow Saturday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry denounced sanctions by the EU that imposed travel bans and asset freezes on 15 Russian officials including top security agency officials.

The EU is taking “a complete turn away from joint work with Russia on international and regional security, including the fight against the spread of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism (and) organized crime,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also accused the United States of conducting “an unrelenting campaign of slander against Russia, ever more relying on open lies.”

“The United States continues to push Kyiv into the forceful repression of (Ukraine's) Russian-speaking population's discontent. There is one conclusion: the Obama administration has some responsibility both for the internal conflict in Ukraine and its severe consequences,” the ministry said in a separate statement.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said Friday he believed the Russian military and its leaders were “probably somewhat reluctant participants” in the form of warfare being used in Ukraine.

Speaking at a security forum in the western state of Colorado, Dempsey also said he was concerned that a “rising tide of nationalism” in Russia may slip into other parts of Europe.

“My fear is actually, you know if I have a fear about this, it's that Putin may actually light a fire that he loses control of," he told the Aspen Security Forum. “In other words, you know; these ethnic enclaves, there's a rising tide of nationalism and nationalism can be a very dangerous instinct and impulse. There's a rising tide of nationalism in Europe right now that has been created by, in many ways, by these Russian activities that I find to be quite dangerous."

Efforts to repatriate the 298 victims of the crash continued Saturday, as two cargo planes flew 38 more coffins out of the nearby city of Kharkiv to a forensic center in the Netherlands for identification and investigation, the AP reported.

Some victims’ remains are believed to be still at the wreckage site, east of Donetsk, but investigators and rescuers have had limited access to the site due to security concerns.

Material from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: shane from: aust
July 27, 2014 11:46 PM
General fears nationalism with in countries. Is this not the right of people to do so if they so wish. or is that the EU / US / UK are losing their ability to impose their own policy.


by: Onlooker from: Mordor
July 27, 2014 5:11 AM
Russia began the war in Ukraine against Europe . Who did not understand else?


by: Anonymous
July 27, 2014 12:58 AM
The world needs to slap Putins hands as hard as they can.
Cut all business ties, make him "Sit out" of economic development worldwide. Even his own people hate him, only ones that do like him fear him.


by: NoEvidence from: lkjkj
July 26, 2014 11:53 PM
I love how all the accusations in this article conclude with .. "USA officials said so". There's no proof, in fact, satellite images show that Russian troops are not even massed near their borders. This article makes it seem as everywhere were true. Yet, whenever Russia makes an accusation, you'll see straight away that this site boldly claims "but there is no evidence at all".


by: Peter Aretin from: Republic of Boulderia
July 26, 2014 6:59 PM
Who would have thought that if you dress a mob of goons in camo and arm them to the teeth bad things might happen?

I wonder if any of this has penetrated John McCain's dense cranium?

Nah.


by: Geronimo360 from: United States
July 26, 2014 4:55 PM
Larry you are about as Holy as a pile of pig **** and probably have less brain tissue than aforementioned pig ****.Wallow in the slop of your obvious ignorance...you are such a sad example of a human being,have a glor


by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
July 26, 2014 3:14 PM
On force and more sanctions can make Putin and goons slow down their course.


by: Rebecca from: Latvia
July 26, 2014 1:34 PM
In 21th century Nazism speaks Russian


by: Ed from: Idaho
July 26, 2014 11:31 AM
Maybe Ukraine should just allow a bit of the East for these rebels if they agree to peace. But for a good overview of the entire issue and Russia's interest in the whole thing see this well written article, a bit long but very factual and informative.
http://www.smh.com.au/world/vladimir-putins-circle-of-fear-20140725-zw393.html

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid