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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Comments page of 2
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by: Adofo E.Rodriguez from: US/MIAMI/FLORIDA
March 08, 2014 11:11 AM
Plain and simple: Vladimir Putin is the 2014 new Zar of all
Russians !!!
In Response

by: RL Bts
March 09, 2014 12:42 PM
I think you meant to say CZAR

by: WildWilli from: USA
March 08, 2014 11:08 AM
It is obvious to me that west Ukraine is vastly different than east Ukraine. So, why not divide the two sectors into two separate countries with the east taking the southeast regions including Crimea and the west taking the northwest regions. Obviously, West Ukraine would align itself with the EU and East Ukraine would align itself with Russia. Neither parties may like this arrangement but this might prevent a bloody war where no one wins.
In Response

by: Anonymous
March 08, 2014 10:10 PM
Ukraine does not need an east and west seperated, much like East and West Germany. This is not world war 2.
In Response

by: Mark from: Virginia
March 08, 2014 5:25 PM
the northern part of the U.S. is vastly different from the southern part of the U.S. lets use that same reasoning to divide America in two and force a country to split (or we could do it east and west, as well, the outcome will be the same- a divided country slowly hating on each other to the point where reunion is impossible)

by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, USA
March 08, 2014 10:59 AM
The Russian government has stated clearly that it won't allow the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Crimea unless the OSCE recognizes the Kiev interim government as illegal. That aspect also excludes any negotiation between Russia and the Kiev interim government because Russia does not recognize it as a legal authority in Ukraine, and, instead, insists that it still recognizes Yanukovich as the legitimate leader of Ukraine.

I am sure that the protester's leaders in Ukraine never thought about their "legitimacy" issue. They thought when they ousted Yanukovich that they were the de-facto leaders, and, as the adage says, "possession is 9/10 of the law!" Not in politics though!

The interim rulers in Ukraine may found themselves out of the picture in the end, as Ukrainians start to see a darker picture with their amateurism. Revolutions are not evaluated on their ability to overthrow a government, but on what they can do better for the majority of the people afterward. Honestly, I don't feel that the new interim rulers in Ukraine have the ability and the foresight of good governance. Their position and their control of Ukraine is tenuous - at best. Nikos Retsos, retired professor
In Response

by: warren from: tasamani
March 08, 2014 8:31 PM
But like all revolutionaries they learn fast.

by: meanbill from: USA
March 08, 2014 9:49 AM
TRUTH BE TOLD..... The US and EU took land from Serbia and created Kosovo, and took land from Iraq to give to the Kurds, (and opened Pandora's box), and showed other countries like (Russia and China), they could do it too... and then Russia made Abkhazia and Ossetia Sovereign independent states, who's borders are defended by Russia...
The Russians don't recognize Kosovo as a country, and the US and EU don't recognize Abkhazia and Ossetia as independent states, but the precedence has been set by the US and EU, hasn't it?
NOW will Ukraine vote to join the Russians as an independent state? ... Since they started it, what if anything can the US and EU do about it? ........ REALLY?

by: van from: vn
March 08, 2014 9:01 AM
Russia right or US&NATO right ?
Russia is right when they accused the US and Nato to attack, Serbia, Iraq, Afgahnistan , Lybia.....but think carefully before saying, the US and Nato did pay a very costly price (Human loss and money) for those attacks with the only purpose : to help build democratic governments , they never occupy and rejoin territories ( look at kosovo, Serbia, Iraq, Afgahnistan, Lybia, Syria…..)these governments are taking care of themselves with US&NATO support. But look at Russia : they attack Georgia and rejoin Apkhadia and Ossestia, now attack Ukraine and rejoin Crimea, later will be Latvia, Lithuania….…and many many other territories near Russia with weak governments. Cerainly russia will attack and rejoin them to make the big Russia. What for? What a shame !the world must act now , or it’s will be useless if too late.
Van Nguyen -VN
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
March 08, 2014 11:50 PM
Why take lands if they only want oil?

Russia on the other hand has all the rights to protect Russians!

by: bg
March 08, 2014 8:53 AM
Whether go or not to cold-war situation, depend on Russia. First Russia should leave Ukriane. If like this, many dependent countries in Russia, including Buraitia, Halimik, Chichen, etc., are able to become independent through their citizens vote. All big countries always think about this.
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