News / Europe

Ukraine, Energy Highlight Obama EU Talks

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference during a EU-U.S. summit at the European Council in Brussels March 26, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference during a EU-U.S. summit at the European Council in Brussels March 26, 2014.
Luis Ramirez
President Obama continues his efforts to build support among European allies against Russia's takeover of the Crimea region of Ukraine. At an EU summit - his first in Brussels - the U.S. leader said the Ukraine crisis is highlighting the need for Europe to diversify its energy sources.

Obama’s trip to the heart of Europe comes at a crucial time, when the U.S. is leading efforts to isolate Russia in an attempt to prevent Russian forces from going deeper into Ukraine - or to other nations in the region.

Obama made it a point to show that U.S. ties to Europe run deep.

The president started his day in Belgium with a visit to Flanders Field outside Brussels and laid a wreath at a cemetery where more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers killed in World War One are buried.

It was on to a lunch meeting with European leaders that officials said was aimed at reaffirming the U.S.-European partnership.

They talked about tightening sanctions if Russia encroaches further into Ukraine or other neighbors and about Europe's dependence on Russian oil and gas.

At a joint news conference with European Council leaders, Obama said that dependence is a point of vulnerability that European leaders need to examine.

“Energy is obviously a central focus of our efforts and we have to consider very strongly. This entire event, I think, has pointed to the need for Europe to look at how it can further diversify its energy sources,” said Obama.

Also on the agenda Wednesday was a meeting with the head of NATO. Obama said he would reassure NATO allies of what he said is Washington's unwavering support and its intention to abide by its guarantees to defend NATO members.

Obama came to Brussels from a nuclear security summit in The Hague, where Ukraine also overshadowed the agenda. There, the president warned against further Russian advances in the region.  He countered claims that Russia is the U.S.'s number one enemy, calling Moscow a regional power that overran Crimea not as a sign of strength but of weakness.

But there are signs the U.S. leader at the same time is being careful not to escalate tensions with Russia.

When asked about the possibility of expanding NATO membership to Ukraine and others in the region, President Obama said that is not an option for now.

“Russia has at least on background suggested one of the reasons they've been concerned about Ukraine is potential NATO membership. On the other hand, part of the reason that Ukraine hasn't formally applied for membership is because of its complex relationship with Russia. I don't think that’s going to change anytime soon, obviously,” said Obama.

At his stop in The Hague, the president also spoke on a domestic matter: his efforts to end the practice of having the U.S. government store phone records and have telecom firms do it instead. Obama hopes the move will help restore Americans' confidence.

The issue of U.S. phone surveillance is a sensitive one in Europe, following revelations last year of U.S. wiretapping of allied leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been present at meetings with Obama this week.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs