News / Europe

    Ukraine Peace Process Flounders

    France Calls for Timetable for Ukraine Prisoner Exchange, Electionsi
    March 05, 2016 12:12 AM
    France's foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, called for a timetable for elections in eastern Ukraine and for release of prisoners on Thursday after meeting with his counterparts from Germany, Russia and Ukraine. While there has been no breakthrough in the region, VOA's Nike Ching reports there is a concern Russia is using the talks to tighten its grip.
    WATCH Related Video Report: France Calls for Timetable for Ukraine Prisoner Exchange, Elections

    There has been no breakthrough in the latest diplomatic attempt to implement a peace deal in eastern Ukraine, but observers say the so-called Minsk agreements are not "dead" yet.

    In Paris on Thursday, foreign ministers from France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine — the so-called Normandy Format — tried to get the peace process back on track. The terms agreed to in Minsk during February of 2015 were not fully carried out by the deadline, which was the end of last year.

    Analyst Jeff Rathke, Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Friday both Moscow-backed separatists and Kyiv need to do their parts to move on with a permanent cease-fire and political reforms to break the stalemate.  

    "On the one hand, decisions have to be made by the Ukrainian authorities,” he said, “but most importantly is the need for the separatists backed by Russia to do their part, and so that remains as a problem, as progress is correspondingly slow and there [have] been no breakthroughs."

    Rathke told VOA that Russia's intention in participating in the talks is trying to "find a way out of the sanctions" posed by the West. 

    A senior State Department official told VOA a full cease-fire and heavy-weapons withdrawal is needed for the implementation of political, economic and humanitarian aspects of Minsk — including voting in local elections.

    ‘No agreements reached’

    After hours of talks, French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called for an April 30 deadline for a prisoner exchange in the Ukraine conflict, and for local elections to be held by the end of June in the Donbas region.

    FILE - A Pro-Russian activist waves a Donbas Republic flag over a crowd celebrating the capture of an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
    FILE - A Pro-Russian activist waves a Donbas Republic flag over a crowd celebrating the capture of an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.

    "We emphasized the importance of the creation and adoption of an electoral code by the Ukrainian government and the parliament in order to hold the local elections. We hope the elections will take place before the first half of 2016," he said.

    But Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said in a tweet that "no agreements were reached."

    Klimkin said there needs to be more progress toward an endurable cease-fire, though, to create security on the ground for local elections. He said Russians were not ready to discuss anything in detail.

    Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, expressed his frustration after the meeting. 

    He said in a statement that "sometimes I also have the impression that Moscow and Kyiv forgot how serious the situation is and what pressure we are under to implement Minsk faster, because otherwise our efforts risk losing their legitimacy and their credibility."

    Suspicions regarding Russia

    The United States has urged Russia-supported separatists to start an immediate heavy weapons withdrawal in eastern Ukraine. Washington also called for Kyiv to adopt political reforms.

    "We recognize that political reform is important not just to the stability of their government but to the Ukrainian people, and we want to see that continue to progress," said State Department spokesman John Kirby on Thursday.

    While top U.S. officials continue to voice support for the western-brokered Minsk peace deal, critics say it does not change Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

    Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Adam Ereli said that what the West saw in Russia's behavior in eastern Ukraine and Crimea was "the gradual erosion of established rules of international behavior, the respect for international boundaries, the intervention in internal conflicts, [and] the arming of separatist movements by hostile powers."

    Ereli warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been utilizing all tools to undermine the western alliance.

    "Clearly he's got his eyes on Moldova, clearly he's got his eyes on Eastern Europe," said Ereli of Putin, adding that "it's all part of an integrated plan."

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: beeQey
    March 10, 2016 7:58 AM
    "Ukraine will definitely not able to become a member of the EU in the next 20-to-25 years, and not of NATO either". Since this words are being said.... both EU and NATO should deliberately mind their support of Kiev's mafia in arms and finances, as one mafia got now simply no other way not to join another:

    by: Anonymous
    March 05, 2016 8:58 PM
    USA and EU need to get over Crimea. There was a referendum and the people voted to join Russia, a country they were part of anyway before some drunkard tried to offer Crimea for taking.
    NATO wants so bad to have control of Crimea and that is why they supported regime change. The Bear swatted their plan and short of a war with Russia USA/NATO better forget about the silly idea that Crimea will be part of Ukraine soon or for the next century.
    In Response

    by: Tyler Brown
    March 08, 2016 2:01 AM
    It's also important to note the context: The referendum was held following the overthrow of the legitimate, constitutional government of Ukraine in a violent putsch.
    In Response

    by: Ted from: United States
    March 06, 2016 11:52 AM
    What needs to happen is....!

    Russia needs to stop corrupting/or trying to corrupt websites that speak the "TRUTH" something Russia try's to distort at every turn!!

    What needs to happen is for Russia to leave all of Ukraine and also depart Crimea!!!

    by: Duncan Gill from: South Africa
    March 05, 2016 5:28 AM
    I believe that once the US through it's state department starts to treat the world and it's countries as equals then mankind will find peace and stability.As long as the US sees itself as above reproach and therefore able,in it's own way of thinking, to accuse the rest of the world of wrongdoing that itself is guilty of,then the world will know no peace or harmony.In short it's ok for us to act in a certain way but not fr Russia t act in a certain way! This policy was unable to work against Russia all through he cold war years and will not work now,time for the US to finally accept that there ca be no one nation that dictates to the rest of the world not now not ever!Russia will fight until the very end to not submit to US world dominance and they have the means to make sure that no one will will this battle or emerge the victor! The US intransigence can only lead the world to disaster it is getting boring old hat and frankly stupid to pursue this way of thinking.The cards have been dealt the hand lost time to concede the old ways are over an a new way has to be charted!
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 06, 2016 7:14 PM
    Silly man, the policy destroyed the USSR

    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 04, 2016 11:44 PM
    Why would any Russian separatist want to be a Ukrainian now, because they have no financial incentive whatsoever to join in a corrupt bankrupt Ukraine government now? .. The world should ask themselves, "would you want to be a Ukrainian"

    by: alabama from: Ukraine
    March 04, 2016 10:03 PM
    Almost none of observers talk about violation of people's civil rights in eastern Ukraine.It's all about discrimination.Government in Kiev ignores its citizens living on occupied territory.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora