News / Europe

Ukraine Holds National Unity Talks Without Separatists

  • Participants gathered on Wednesday, May 14 for talks on how to quell a pro-Russian rebellion in the east, but Kyiv's refusal to let separatists take part cast doubt on whether the meeting could defuse the crisis in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, May 14, 2014.
  • Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov (center) and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (left) take part in talks aimed at quelling a pro-Russian rebellion in the east, in Kyiv, May 14, 2014.
  • A worker at the state-owned printing house inspects a ballot for the May 25 snap presidential elections with 21 candidates taking part, in Kyiv,  May 14, 2014.
  • Mykhaylo Okhendovsky, head of Ukraine's Central Election Commission, shows a long ballot with names of 21 presidential candidates, at a news conference, in Kyiv, May 14, 2014.
  • Remains of mortar shells are seen near a destroyed Ukrainian army mobile mortar truck in the eastern Ukrainian village of Oktyabrskoe, May 14, 2014.
  • Local villagers collect parts of a destroyed Ukrainian armored personnel carrier. Pro-Russian separatists ambushed Ukrainian troops on May 13, making it the heaviest loss of life in a single clash since Kyiv sent soldiers to put down a rebellion in the country's east, village of Oktyabrskoe, May 14, 2014.
  • A boy plays with a machine gun belt as local citizens collect parts of a destroyed amored personnel carrier, village of Oktyabrskoye village, near Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, May 14, 2014.
Ukraine Holds National Unity Talks
VOA News
Ukraine launched talks Wednesday on national unity without the participation of pro-Russian separatists who are seeking autonomy from Kyiv in the country's east and southeast.

In opening remarks, interim President Oleksandr Turchynov said his government is ready for dialogue. He also insisted, though, that Kyiv will not talk to the pro-Russian gunmen who have seized buildings and killed government troops near the Russian border.

The talks, which opened 11 days ahead of Ukrainian presidential elections, are part of a "road map" backed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Analysts, however, say the deliberate omission of separatists from the discussions raises doubts about whether the meetings will ease ethnic tensions threatening to rip the country apart.

Separatists who declared "sovereignty" in two eastern regions this week dismissed the Kyiv talks. Rebel leader Denis Pushilin told The Associated Press that any such dialogue must take place in the east. "If we go to Kyiv, they will arrest us," he said.

National  lawmakers and regional officials, religious leaders and civic activists are attending the talks, part of a "road map" laid out by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
 
The OSCE plan calls on both the Ukrainian government and the separatists to refrain from violence. It also seeks immediate amnesty for those involved in the fighting and talks on decentralizing the country's political system and on the status of the Russian language.
 
But the separatist rebels are not represented, raising doubts about the negotiations’ effectiveness.

“We haven’t received any offers to join a round table,” Denis Pushilin, an insurgent leader in Donetsk, told the Associated Press. “If the authorities in Kyiv want a dialogue, they must come here. If we go to Kyiv, they will arrest us.”

On Tuesday, pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine killed seven government soldiers in an ambush of a military armored column near the city of Kramatorsk.
 
On Wednesday, Russia's Interfax news agency quoted Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the self-styled "people's mayor" of Slovyansk, the rebel stronghold in eastern Ukraine, as saying eight government soldiers had been killed and seven wounded overnight in a battle with rebels outside Slovyansk.
 
There was no immediate response to the claim from Kyiv.

'Close to civil war'
 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Bloomberg Television on Wednesday that Ukraine “is as close to civil war as you can get” and that a solution must be found to satisfy all of its regions.
 
Lavrov said it is "ridiculous" to hold Russia accountable for Ukraine's May 25 presidential election, adding that the vote cannot be legitimate if it is impeded by fighting. He also insisted Russia has “no intention” of sending its troops anywhere.

Russian news agencies Wednesday quoted officials of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic as saying the election will not be held in the two breakaway regions.

On Monday, a day after referendums on self-rule, separatist leaders declared the two Russian-speaking regions to be independent states. Leaders in Donetsk asked Moscow to consider formally absorbing the region into the Russian Federation. The Kremlin has not yet responded.

On Wednesday, Interfax quoted Vladimir Karasev, a leader of the Donetsk People's Republic, as saying the two "republics" were forming an "army of the southeast."
 
Russian troops still at border

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department on Tuesday released satellite pictures showing Russian forces near the Ukrainian border, despite assurances from Moscow last week that it had withdrawn its huge military force.
 
Commercial satellite photos, dated May 9, also appear on NATO's Twitter account.  The pictures show helicopters parked near the Russian border town of Belgorad. A second photo, taken Sunday across the border from the embattled Ukraine city of Mariupol, showed what U.S. officials described as Russian armored vehicles.
 
After declaring independence, separatist leaders in Donetsk asked Moscow to consider formally "absorbing" the region into the Russian Federation. The Kremlin has not yet responded.
 
Moscow said Monday that it respects the outcome of the votes. But Tuesday, Russia's Foreign Ministry said it expects the pro-Russian "self-defense forces" in eastern Ukraine to "react appropriately" if Kyiv agrees to halt "punitive actions" in the east and withdraw its military forces.

Mixed messages from Germany

Europe is partly to blame for the crisis in Ukraine, although this is no excuse for Russian behavior toward the former Soviet republic, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's deputy said Wednesday.

The tone struck by Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, head of the Social Democrats (SPD), contrasts with that of conservative Merkel, who blames Russia for exacerbating the crisis, souring ties between Russia and the West.

"Certainly, the European Union has also made mistakes, although this does not justify Russia's behavior," Gabriel told the German daily Rheinische Post.

"It was certainly not smart to create the impression in Ukraine that it had to decide between Russia and the EU," said Gabriel, who also serves as economy minister. "But again: That was not and is not a justification to plunge a country into chaos," he added.

On Monday, Merkel rejected criticism from her SPD predecessor Gerhard Schroeder, a personal friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Schroeder had said Europe's approach toward Ukraine and Russia was one reason for the crisis.

Gabriel also said an armed conflict must be avoided under any circumstances.

Putin stresses self-reliance

Putin said on Wednesday that Russia's defense industry should stop relying on foreign components and should be self-sufficient following Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.

“We need to do our utmost for anything used in our defense sector to be produced on our territory, so that we would not be dependent on anyone...,” he told a meeting of defense officials at his Black Sea residence.

Washington has threatened to target some high-tech exports to Russia as part of sanctions, in addition to visa bans and asset freezes already in place.

In an apparent retaliatory move, Russia on Tuesday rejected a U.S. request to prolong the use of the International Space Station, a 15-nation project, beyond 2020.

Washington wants to keep the space station in use until at least 2024.

Calling the U.S. and “unrealiable partner,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Moscow would also bar Washington from using Russian-made rocket engines to launch military satellites.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters
 

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: gen from: Japan
May 15, 2014 8:02 AM
The Kiev government and the separatists is in a stalemate.If they don't talk each other,Some of Russian speaking regions like Doneztk would break away from Ukraine.If the separatists regions don't take part in the upcoming election, then it will have a huge impact to other Russian speaking regions,like Oddesa etc.Some more Russian speaking regions might have referendum and ask Russia to absorb. Some regions would wag wars to and fro.It is not wise.Even Russia couldn't help all Russian speaking regions.more complicated and worse.

So Russia and OSCE top officials,twe teams, should take the separatists leaders which had held referendum to Kiev to attend the round table in Kiev?
To disarm the region,there are no option but to meet Kiev government and the separatists. If they were attacked or arrested by Kiev government,then Russia army only have to cross over the border in Ukraine.

Now it is important time or situation whether or not Ukraine collapse. If Kiev government don't meet the separatists,how would the separatists disarm? or would defeat all separatists by arms ? That is against the Geneva talks and OSCE road map. I think now it is a last chance to recover the govern ace in Ukraine before the upcoming president election in Ukraine. If the separatists hamper the election, Russia would not help the separatists.

I think that Russian don't hope the upcoming president election is hampered. Russia might consider the separatists a enemy of Russia. If the ordinary Russian speaking minority couldn't take part in the president election,it would damage Russian national interests.

by: Franko from: France
May 15, 2014 12:57 AM
We betrayed Ukrainians. They did two attempts to be part of EU and good friend of USA,but we let Russia tear this country apart and Ukraine almost stands alone to fight with Russia. We betrayed Ukrainians. Nobody will want to have a deal with us in the future.
In Response

by: HONG HA from: Vietnam
May 15, 2014 11:08 PM
You did not betray Ukraine. You only gave them a chance but they missed it because they failed to persuade the whole population. You should not blame any country for that. The ones who are to blame are those in power in Kiev who have failed to listen to the will of the people in the East.

by: Igor from: Russia
May 15, 2014 12:23 AM
Denis Pushilin is right to say that any such dialogue must take place in the east. If the representatives of the East go to Kiev, they will be arrested and executed by the noe-fascists there. So those in power in Kiev must go to the East to beg for peace. They must not think that when they have occupied the capital they will become Ukraine government.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
May 14, 2014 1:48 PM
It's all a talk of what the west has doctored, talk about a stooge representing his mentors. What do we expect from these talks? The West wants Ukraine against the dictates of the people of Ukraine. There is an election scheduled for May 25th, why did the west insist Yanukovych must not go to Russia if they believed the Ukrainians actually wanted to go to wild west - would the upcoming election not have been good enough to redirect the course?

It is because of lack of faith in the western system election that US, EU and NATO insisted on mob action to change the direction. What will the talks achieve, and who are the subjects; who set the agenda of the talks? Why setting preconditions for the talks? It's billed to fail. I do not know if the West is getting to its target of disrupting Russia - which is all the reason it started the trouble. Unfortunately China has failed even as Germany is beginning to be less than its actual self, for rather than play a leading role, it elects to be proxy, perhaps because it lacks faith in itself.

by: meanbill from: USA
May 14, 2014 11:27 AM
Already Yatsenyuk has place unrealistic restrictions on any Ukraine peace talks? -- (And you can bet your last bottom dollar) -- the US will try to sabotage the Ukraine peace process? -- (BUT?) -- he has admitted to his and the US and EU mistakes, hasn't he?

by: Sergey from: SPb
May 14, 2014 8:00 AM
Yatsenyuk is going to talk with himself. What does he hope to solve?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs