News / Europe

Kyiv Battles Separatists Along Border; Proposes New Sanctions

Ukrainian servicemen stand on bridge ruined during battles between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists on the outskirts of Slaviansk, Aug. 8, 2014.
Ukrainian servicemen stand on bridge ruined during battles between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists on the outskirts of Slaviansk, Aug. 8, 2014.
VOA News

Ukrainian government forces battled Russian-backed separatists in eastern regions Friday, a top official said, as Kyiv proposed sanctions against dozens of Russian companies and individuals.

The fighting came as Ukraine’s armed forces tightened cordons in and around the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, the last remaining strongholds for rebels whose insurgency is now in its fifth month.

At least 15 servicemen were killed and 79 wounded as troops broke out of encirclement by separatist forces near the border with Russia, said Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the National Security and Defense Council.

Lysenko alleged they had been targeted both by the separatists and Russian military units firing across the border.

It was impossible to confirm the allegation of cross-border fire, though intelligence and witness reports have documented multiples instances of rockets and artillery being fired from the Russian side of the border in recent weeks.

Officials in Donetsk said four residents were killed and 18 wounded in shelling on Thursday. Lysenko was quoted by The Associated Press as denying that Ukrainian forces had shelled Donetsk.

New sanctions

Meanwhile, Kyiv on Friday moved to join the United States, Australia and several European governments in imposing sanctions against Russian companies and individuals. A total of 65 companies and 172 citizens of Russia and other countries are being targeted, according to Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

The measure, which will be submitted to parliament, is aimed at those who "have been financing terrorism, supported the annexation of Crimea and encroached on the territorial integrity of Ukraine," Yatsenyuk was quoted by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency as saying.

The action against Russian companies would include freezing assets, limiting trade operations and banning capital withdrawal from Ukraine, he said. They could also include a ban on air flights and transit of cargo and commodities through Ukraine.

It wasn’t immediately what the impact of the sanctions would be, though Ukraine’s economy is closely interlinked with Russia’s. Moscow had imposed some punitive trade measures earlier, and any large scale retaliation would have a sever effect on Ukraine’s already battered economy.  

A day earlier, Russia stopped imports of most food from the West in retaliation for U.S. and EU sanctions. Roughly 10 percent of EU agricultural exports go to Russia, worth around 11 billion euros annually, according to Reuters.

UN Reports of Rights Abuses

Also Friday, a senior U.N. human rights official said that there was a “reign of fear and terror” in areas under control of separatist rebels. Ivan Simonovic told the U.N. Security Council that the government since April has recorded over 900 abductions by armed groups, including many journalists, politicians, students and even international monitors.

“Abducted individuals have been used as an exchange currency to free members of armed groups detained by the government; to extort money or property and as a source of forced labor, to dig trenches or barricades close to the epicenter of the violence,” Simonovic said.

More than 1,500 people have been killed since mid-April, he said.

Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, criticized the report as an “example of exquisite political rhetoric where facts and conclusions are shaped to fit certain political requirements.”

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power questioned Russia’s proposed humanitarian corridors for affected areas of eastern Ukraine, saying aid should be delivered by international organizations, like the Red Cross.

“Any further unilateral intervention by Russia into Ukrainian territory – including one under the guise of providing humanitarian aid – would be completely unacceptable and deeply alarming,” she said. “And it would be viewed as an invasion of Ukraine.”

Western analysts say about 20,000 Russian troops have redeployed near the border in recent days, along with armor, infantry, special forces and aircraft.

VOA's U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.  Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: david ochami from: mombasa kenya
August 10, 2014 12:56 PM
The so called West which means the UK and USA should remove its nose in the Black Sea issues. The British especially have interfered in Russia since the 16th century to embarass and humiliate the Russians. The US joined them in the 19th century and now Poland and other Baltic sub-countries are being lined up to join

by: jon from: USA
August 09, 2014 4:04 PM
Igor everyone knows Putin (Russia) is stickin his nose where it doesn't belong,,, Putin is the one causing the starvation... Putin needs ya have his *** kicked again...

by: Igor from: Russia
August 08, 2014 10:32 PM
It is irony that those who are bringing starvation to their own population is asking for more sanctions against Russia. Your teachers, the West, are feeling the bitter response from Russia although they try to deny that. If you would like to live in peace, look down and shut up or you will have nothing left one day!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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