News / Europe

Ukraine's Interim PM to Visit Washington

Military Convoy Moves Through Crimeai
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March 09, 2014 12:15 AM
Russia appears to be strengthening its military presence in Crimea. As VOA's Kent Klein reports, a convoy of military vehicles identified as Russian entered a base near Simferopol on Saturday.

VIDEO: As VOA's Kent Klein reports, Russia appears to be strengthening its military presence in Crimea.

VOA News
Ukraine's Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk reportedly will visit Washington for consultation on the crisis in Crimea.

News of his possible trip comes as a convoy of military vehicles, apparently Russian, has entered a base near Crimea's capital Simferopol.

Reuters news service, which filmed the vehicles and identified them as Russian, said the convoy included eight armored vehicles, two ambulances and gasoline tankers.

The Associated Press said the vehicles traveled to a military airfield over which a Russian flag flew.

Russia denies it has troops on the peninsula beyond those regularly stationed with its Crimea-based Black Sea fleet.

Earlier Saturday, witnesses say warning shots were fired when pro-Russian forces refused entry to Crimea of an international monitoring team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It was the third day in a row that a team of observers has been refused entry to the area.

The OSCE said via Twitter that the team would return to the southern Ukraine city of Kherson.

Acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia Saturday called for a diplomatic resolution and a peaceful end to the crisis, saying Ukraine is open to any possibility that leads to "concrete results," but emphasized "Crimea is and will be Ukrainian territory."

Unease in Crimea continues even though Ukraine's interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, signed a decree Friday canceling a March 16 referendum on Crimea joining Russia.

Yatsenyuk says "no one in the civilized world" will recognize the referendum's results, but local authorities in Crimea say the ballot will go forward.

The speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, has said Russian lawmakers will support Crimea's decision if the Ukrainian region decides to join Russia.

Obama speaks with European leaders

President Barack Obama on Saturday spoke with European leaders, including a conference call with the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. He also spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

According to a White House statement, the leaders all said Russia is violating international law and agree on the need for international observers in Crimea, and they rejected a proposed referendum on Crimea's future as a violation of Ukraine's constitution

In Obama's conference call with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Latvian President Andris Berzins, and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, the White House said the Baltic leaders welcomed NATO's decision to step up patrols over Baltic airspace in response to the situation in Ukraine.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday, continuing discussions begun in Europe about how to de-escalate the crisis. Kerry and Lavrov agreed to speak again in coming days.

Appeals for US gas

According to news reports from The Associated press and Reuters, four central European countries recently asked the United States to make it easier for them to import natural gas from the U.S. so they can reduce their reliance on Russia.

Ambassadors from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia made their appeal in a letter to the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, stating that U.S. natural gas would be welcome in central and eastern Europe and would be a key U.S. interest in the region.

Previous disputes over gas payments between Russia and Ukraine have caused Russia to cut off supplies. The same pipelines that bring Russian gas to Ukraine also supply eastern Europe, creating shortages there.

Russia Friday warned the interim Ukrainian government of another possible shutdown over unpaid gas bills.

Cyber attacks

Cyber security experts say an aggressive virus called "Snake" has been targeting dozens of Ukrainian telecommunications systems, and the number of attacks has surged since January 2013.

BAE Systems, an international cyber security company, announced in a report Friday that it has identified 56 "Snake" attacks worldwide since 2010, and of those, 32 targeted Ukraine. Twenty-two of those attacks on Ukraine have taken place since January 2013, and among those targeted were Ukrainian government networks.

Experts say the virus, also known as "Ouroboros," for the mythological Greek serpent that eats its own tail, can give operators unfettered access to networks, allowing them to either conduct surveillance undetected or control the system themselves.

The author of the Snake virus is unidentified, but experts say operators appear to be based in the same time zone as Moscow, and there is some Russian text embedded in the code.

Analysts say the virus bears similarities to Stuxnet, the virus that targeted Iran's nuclear facilities in 2010.

Also Saturday, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski announced that Poland has evacuated its consulate in Sevastopol because of "continuing disturbances by Russian forces."

FILE - Ukraine's Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia.FILE - Ukraine's Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia.
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FILE - Ukraine's Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia.
FILE - Ukraine's Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia.
Ukraine's acting foreign minister has called for a diplomatic resolution and a peaceful end to the crisis in Ukraine.  Andrii Deshchytsia, speaking in Kyiv Saturday, said Ukraine is open to any possibility that leads to "concrete results," but he emphasized that "Crimea is and will be Ukrainian territory."

Possible impact on START inspections

Russia may suspend nuclear arms inspections set down in a treaty with the United States in reaction to Western sanctions over Ukraine, Russian news agencies quoted an unnamed Defense Ministry source on Saturday as saying.

The source, according to Reuters, said the ministry was studying the possibility of  suspending on-site inspections agreed in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between Moscow and Washington.

The United States suspended military cooperation such as joint exercises and port visits with Russia on Monday as Washington sought ways to punish Moscow over its intervention in Ukraine without escalating the crisis.

In the latest version of the START treaty, which was originally agreed in 1991, the United States and Russia pledged  to cap the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 each and cut their numbers of strategic nuclear missile launchers in half by 2018.

The treaty allows each side to conduct 18 on-site inspections per year in the other country.

  • Uniformed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, stand guard near a Ukrainian military base outside the city of Sevastopol, March 7, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest rally in Donetsk, Ukraine, March 6, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest rally in Donetsk, Ukraine, March 6, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian serviceman stands guard at a Ukrainian military base as a uniformed man, believed to be a Russian serviceman, walks nearby in Perevalnoye outside Simferopol, March 6, 2014.
  • Uniformed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, walk in formation near a Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, outside Simferopol, March 6, 2014.
  • A uniformed man, believed to be a Russian serviceman, stands guard near a Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, outside Simferopol, March 6, 2014.
  • The Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaydachy enters the waters of the Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine, March 6, 2014.
  • Members of Crimean self-defence units block a topless activist from the Ukrainian feminist group Femen during a protest near the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol, March 6, 2014.
  • A woman walks past barricades set up by anti-Yanukovych protestors in Kyiv's Independence Square, March 6, 2014.
  • Pallbearers carry the coffin of a self defense volunteer who was shot and killed by an unknown assailant two days ago near Kyiv's Independence Square, March 6, 2014.

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by: Simonzee1 from: Australia
March 10, 2014 9:31 PM
Americans do you see the hypocricy of supporting a coup in the Ukraine ans tgen demanding that under so called international law crimea by popular will cannot separate. Under the American Constitution which America holds up as the light on the hill any state feeling that they have their constitutional rights trodden over can break away. 67% of Americans would like to throw their legislators onto the street. Here is the hypocricy. States in America can break away but not in the Ukraine under so called international law. Texas could join Mexico if it wanted to if it felt it best protected its constitution al rights. You watch Rand Paul's libeterianism take off in America aided primarily by the religious right. All the rest of these warmongering politicians from the Democrats and the Republicans will see him march well ahead. He thrashed Ted Cruz in the straw poll and all others. People are sick of big governments and powerplay that has lost contact with the will of the people

Snowden os no freedom fighter or traitor. He is just a bloke with a conscience questioning his governments attacks on the rights of citizens. The constitution best guarantees that right no matter what despots and liars may be sprouting from the halls of power in Washington. The Republicans can hardly be critical after how they have discovered how the Obama Administration has used the arms of government to persecute its own people and democratic elected officials. Is he a hero or a traitor? That is in the eyes of whoever wants to use him for their political purposes and then toss him aside when they are finished. That is the real tragedy of the situation and my bet is on America doing this more than Russia. How far people have gone from the spirit of the Constitution of the United States and never more so than with Obama's administrationwhich has a logbook of lies and deception and prosecution of opponents writ large above the pillars in Washington and above the Whitehouse.


by: Igor from: Russia
March 10, 2014 12:22 AM
Now the son is visiting his father to receive instructions on how to remain in power illegally. Of course the West will try to protect its product at all cost even though it has been proved to be a bad one.


by: Simonzee1 from: Australia
March 09, 2014 7:00 PM
This is quite fitting for a coup leader and Obama to have a pow-wow. Two people who talk of democracy but undermine the principles thereof.This visit is just more Obama swag...more smoke and mirrors from a president that would love the "Hollywood" sign placed above the statue of Liberty, "Hollywood best represents American values" he says. Well he is right in his own mind as he gives us a great mix of fiction mixed with non-fiction storylines..Meanwhile back in the real world....the real what they call... "Water Shed in Modern History" is Libya with America, France and Britain...and Johnny-come-lately Germany exercising their mission creep and murder. That opened the floodgates of a new arms race...Nations now know if they do not have nuclear weapons their sovereignty at any moment could be kicked to the wayside.The Ukraine is as successul for the West in sending other troubling messages like..."If you don't like your government have a coup." Much worse that "If you like your health plan you can keep it."Following the example in the Ukraine protestors in Libya took you up on your version of international law and started shooting MP's and storming Congress. Clearly....undeniably... after "Libya"... NATO...the E.U and the U.N has very little credibility.As I said before those 67% of Americans who as it stands, would like to throw their lawmakers to the street if they could, may wish to consider the option when their gas bills become unaffordable as vast amounts of gas are exported to Europe to play cold war games. What did Obama say to Romney..."Hhhh...the cold war ended 20 years ago." Well he is in a hurry to bring it back after the Libyan mission creep and the supporting of a coup with the E.U. Just look at the current state of Libya. I'm sure Putin will do a better job with Crimea but I think the E.U and America are determined for the Ukraine to become another Libya. If they cannot have it all they will wreck it all. That's their legacy folks just look at the middle-east.By the way...read the history of Henry VII because he set the template of rule and the powerstructures for modern Europe in the form of the E.U. It is important to say that England breathed a sigh of relief when Henry VII reign was over.


by: RL Bts
March 09, 2014 9:22 AM
Better call beforehand. Obama may be on vacation!

In Response

by: Phil from: New York
March 09, 2014 5:24 PM
You think US government would have done some serious actions against russia if russian establishment had supported overthrow in canada openly for instance to put there puppet government for geopolitical reasons?I mean generally,I don't wanna discuss Obama now lol.Said enough about him.Why not letting them have their referendum?It's basically russian lang including east and south parts of ukraine that were given up for them during the history as a gift.There are russian majority so it's clear they wanna re-join,moreover it's disorder in Ukraine now.Russia has lost its territories while disorder took place in Russia.People are welcoming them.Precedent was made in 1999 in Kosovo so we shouldn't use double standarts over Ukraine.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
March 09, 2014 3:22 AM
I am sure integrity of sovereignty of Ukraine should be ensured for all of Ukrainian people. Because as it is, I hope the interim government of Ukraine should make efforts to win the referendom asking Crimean people if they are favoring joinning Russia or keeping to stay in Ukraine if it would be done. I hope Ukrainian interim governmet is also supported by Crimean people as well as pro-EU nations. I guess western countires should take it account that what Cremian people actually want. As long as it is not certain, foreigners should keep away from meddling to foreign affairs. Than you.


by: Anonymous
March 08, 2014 10:09 PM
Imagine Russia with a great friendly PEACEFULL leader? They could be the most wanted place to visit on earth. But because of the provocative crazy and war crazed decisions of Putin, he has tarnished the name of the country.

We the world know that a lot has to do with Putins personal decision making. Russian people are great people, but their leader is making their country out with a bad name... Nobody is going to rule the world someday it is a place for everyone. Human rights is a very important part of peace.

IF only Russia, and the West could all come together and peacefully disarm everyone, the world would be a better place and billions and billions of dollars could be spent on fighting disease, poverty, and anything else (Which would also mean longer living taxpayers!!!)...

If Iran would follow suit too, if Iran had a great friendly place to visit with great human rights track record, and promoted peace, it could be the most beautiful visited place on earth...

Come on leaders! Quit your bullcrap and be nice so we can visit your countries and share your customs worldwide and enjoy each others company...

What Putin is doing is entirely the reverse, provocative acts, which deem him to be a crazy war mongerer... Russias Putin is always crying the blues about what is legal and illegal, what he most recently did was 101% illegal and considered an act of war invading a country and planting boots on the ground without the proper authorization. The only authorization Putin claims he has was authorized by someone who was leading the country and currently has an arrest warrant issued. Same goes for Syria, Putin is the root cause of why Syria is still at war and should of ended 3 years ago... Putin is not good as ANY country leader.

The only thing good that can happen is the people of Russia oust Putin. Putin is putting a wreckless risk on the people of Russia. If the world penalizes Russia for the acts of Putin, it is ONLY going to hurt the Russian people. What kind of leader is willing to risk that? Someone who cares NOTHING about their nation , and people as a whole.

In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
March 08, 2014 11:57 PM
Think about those innocent Iraqis and afghanis killed by Americans, before you criticize Russia.
To the civilized world, America is the worst enemy to the peace!
Crimea ppl has their rights to choose their path, which is the "universal human right" right? If the interim government denies Crimea ppl s basic human right then it is illegitimate, and it's constitution is illegal! How can a pro-west constitution be against the "universal human right"!


by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
March 08, 2014 9:28 PM
Mr. Putin must respect international law. What is this nonsense with Russia? Russia is not part of the solution, she is the part to world peace. The world was concentrating on Syria and Iran, how we can go about to resolve this issue, and work in an amicable environment, Here you go Mr. Putin. and if war may start, the Russian citizens will die. and Russia doesn't want this. It is time for the world to live in peace. Nobody wants to sent their Children, Husbands, wife and uncles to die in the time of war, But if need be, then the US, UK, and EU gat to do what they got to do. The best solution is for Russia to back off of Crimea. Enough is enough.

In Response

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
March 08, 2014 9:55 PM
RUSSIA IS PART OF THE PROBLEM TO WORLD PEACE.


by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
March 08, 2014 8:45 PM
What kind of News I am hearing? who is the commander that makes his troop turn their arms over to Russian Army. That Commander needs to be sack. The ability of a military man depends on his weapon. So this Ukrainian Commander to turn over his weapon to his enemies, not matter what stage they found themselves in, they have to defend their Country, this is why they took an oath. I know we all don't need Mr. Putin trouble, but if it cause us to go to war, so be it. But Mr. Putin must stop his aggression and violation of the international law. He is not above the laws, That KGB mess, keep it in Russia. The world should not sit there ans another Hitler rise to power by the gun again. Mr. Putin is modern day Hitler, This always on the wrong side of the law. He does mean no good. and he should be brought to justice.


by: Anonymous
March 08, 2014 3:26 PM
Putin doesn't look tough, or strong, barging into a country whos military isn't strong at all and putting a line across a certain territory. Instead Putin looks like a jackass, and should be treated as such.

Putin did not use the UN or any proper method before invading Ukraine.

All the more reason we need to put an end to the crap in Syria whether Putin likes it or not. The people of Russia need to start expressing their discontent with Putin, and oust him for what he has done. I can make a list of all the bad things Putin did. Russian people deserve someone a whole hell of a lot better than Putin. There couldn't be a better time for Arab Spring in Russia than now.

In Response

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
March 08, 2014 9:46 PM
Russia always on the wrong side of the law. and the soviet union is not coming back to power Mr. Putin. you need to get over it. Mr. Putin is not the right man for Russia, he is heading Russia into the wrong direction. Mr. Putin has a task to bring about peace to the world, not destruction. and Mr. Putin is taking advantage of Ukraine. Why he cannot take over the US or the UK? The rockoon knows what steak to clean his behind on.


by: MikeBarnett from: USA
March 08, 2014 2:46 PM
This is no surprise. Crimea plans to vote for joining Russia, so no one will resist the return to the former homeland. Ukraine's crisis began over a poor economy. The EU offered less money and austerity. Russia offered more money, no austerity, a new rail link for trade with China, Russia's SCO ally. Russia's GDP rose 1.3% in 2013 versus 0.3% for the EU. China rose 7.7% versus 1.9% for the US. The Russian deal may be backed with $500 billion in Russian forex reserves and, possibly, $3.5 trillion in Chinese forex reserves. The US and EU have debts that exceed their GDPs. If Russia builds a two mile rail and road bridge across the Strait of Kerch, they won't need to use trucks and ferries. Wills Point, Texas, is a few miles south of a two mile bridge across Lake Tawakoni, so I know that it can be done. It is difficult for the US and EU to beat the economic numbers of Russia and China at this time, especially when the EU depends on Russia for gas and on China for investments and trade.

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