News / Europe

NATO's Top Commander: Russia Won't Invade Ukraine

  • A pro-Russian gunman speaks by phone in front of the city hall decorated with the flag of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, in the center of Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, May 8, 2014.
  • A pro-Russia man takes cover from the rain with a piece of wood at the barricades surrounding the Donetsk administration building after a press conference to inform the media about a referendum, May 8, 2014.
  • A pro-Russian gunman atop a car patrols through the center of Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, May 8, 2014.
  • The mother of a Cossack man killed in the burning of the trade union on May 2 holds a candle while crying next to his coffin during the funeral in Odessa, Ukraine, May 8, 2014.
  • A pro-Russia rebel wearing a gas mask places a Russian flag on the balcony of the city hall in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, May 7, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian flag burns outside the city hall in Mariupol, May 7, 2014.
  • A woman looks at a Ukrainian armored personnel carrier at a checkpoint in Mariupol, May 7, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian soldier talks to a man at a checkpoint near the town of Slovyansk, May 7, 2014.
  • An armed pro-Russian man guards the local administration building behind barricades, with a helmet bearing a flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Slovyansk, May 6, 2014.
  • A worker walks past an information board displaying flight delays and cancellations at the international airport in Donetsk, May 6, 2014.
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VOA News
NATO's top military commander, General Philip Breedlove, said he does not think Russia will invade Ukraine, adding that the Kremlin has other ways to achieve its goals.

Breedlove told an audience in Ottawa, Canada Monday that he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin will keep doing what he is doing - creating unrest, discrediting the Ukrainian government and stirring up a separatist movement. He predicted Moscow will keep a hold on eastern Ukraine without sending regular troops across the border.

The NATO commander said he is certain Russian special forces are in Ukraine. But he said it is not known if they were the ones who shot down three Ukrainian helicopters with missiles last week.

Earlier Monday, Ukrainian government forces fought gun battles with pro-Russian militants in the separatist-controlled eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk, a day after pro-Russian protesters stormed the police station in the southern city of Odessa.
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Six people have been killed and around 100 wounded, said a Ukraine Security Service spokeswoman. Russia's Interfax news agency quoted a separatist source in Slovyansk as saying that 20 or more pro-Russian militants had been killed in the fighting.
 
Also, a Ukrainian military helicopter was shot down near Slovyansk on Monday, but the pilots survived, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said.

The helicopter, which came under fire from a heavy machine gun, crashed into a river. The ministry said in a statement the crew were evacuated to a nearby camp but did not give any detail of their condition.

At least three other helicopters have been shot down by pro-Russian rebels in recent days.

Separately, Kyiv drafted police special forces to the southwestern port city of Odessa to halt a feared westward spread of the separatist rebellion.

Ukrainian authorities said the Odessa force would replace local police who had failed to tackle rebel actions over the weekend. Its dispatch was a clear signal from Kyiv that, while dealing with the rebellion in the east, it would vigorously resist any sign of a slide to a broader civil war.

Moscow blames Kyiv

Meanwhile, Russia has called on the Kyiv government on Monday to stop using armed force against its people and enter talks aimed at resolving the Ukraine crisis.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that a humanitarian crisis was looming in blockaded towns in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces have been trying to dislodge pro-Russian separatists who have occupied official buildings.

It called on the Kyiv authorities “to come to their senses, stop the bloodshed, withdraw forces and finally sit down at the negotiating table to begin a normal dialogue about ways to resolve the political crisis.”

Ukraine and the West blame Russia for the violence, accusing it of direct involvement in an effort to destabilize Ukraine, a charge Moscow denies.

Odessa
 
On Sunday in Odessa, hundreds of pro-Russian militants used a battering ram on one entrance to the police station before pushing their way in through a garage. Authorities freed more nearly 70 of the 150 people arrested two days earlier during clashes that led to a fire which killed 42 mostly pro-Russian activists.
 
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia on Sunday of engineering deadly clashes in Odessa during a speech in Odessa May 4, 2014.Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia on Sunday of engineering deadly clashes in Odessa during a speech in Odessa May 4, 2014.
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Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia on Sunday of engineering deadly clashes in Odessa during a speech in Odessa May 4, 2014.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia on Sunday of engineering deadly clashes in Odessa during a speech in Odessa May 4, 2014.

Ukraine's prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, visited the port city Sunday, declaring Russia is seeking to destroy Ukraine by engineering clashes in eastern Ukraine and now Odessa.  He accused Moscow of engaging in a "well-planned provocation" against the interim Kyiv government.
 
Ukraine says it will continue pressing its military offensive against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, while the Kremlin reported receiving thousands of calls for help from the region's Russian-speaking citizenry.
 
Ukraine's acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Sunday that troops had recaptured a television tower and government buildings from rebels in Kramatorsk, a town near Slovyansk. 
 
Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council chief Andriy Parubiy said Sunday an anti-terrorist operation will be carried out in towns beyond Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.
 
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin had not yet decided how to respond to the offensive, or to the deaths in Odessa. 
 
Russia has at least 40,000 troops and armor massed on its border with Ukraine, and the Kremlin says it reserves the right to enter the country to protect ethnic Russians.

Baltics on edge

Russia has suspended a 2001 agreement on mutual military inspections with Lithuania, the defense ministry said on Monday, amid growing worries in the Baltic region over Moscow's assertiveness in Ukraine.

Under their agreement, Lithuania could inspect forces in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave between Lithuania and Poland that is the headquarters of the Russian Baltic fleet, while Russia could do likewise with the Lithuanian military.

The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all former Soviet republics with small military forces, have been warily watching Russia reasserting itself in its former dominions further south.

A total of 600 U.S. troops have now been deployed to Poland and the Baltics for infantry exercises, where they are expected to remain on rotation until the end of the year. Last week, four British Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets also arrived in Lithuania, the first of 12 fighters that will boost air patrols in the Baltics.

Putin’s new Nazi crimes law

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Monday making the denial of Nazi crimes and distortion of the Soviet Union's role in World War II a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in jail.

The law, described by critics as an attempt to curb freedom of expression to appease conservative Russians, Putin's main support base, also criminalizes the desecration of war memorials.

The Kremlin has used World War II as a pillar to unite a society that Putin has said lost its moral bearings following the 1991 Soviet collapse.

Russian officials and media have raised the specter of Nazi Germany repeatedly during Moscow's confrontation with the West over Ukraine, calling the overthrow of Russia-allied president Viktor Yanukovych in February a coup carried out in part by “neo-Nazi” forces.

EU looks to cut Russian gas imports

European Union officials gathered behind closed doors on Monday to confront the hard choices to be made for the EU to wean itself off Russian gas, even considering more use of polluting coal.

A copy of the agenda for Monday's three-hour talks on energy security, according to Reuters listed debate on options such as increased use shale gas, better storage and a drive to reduce demand.

One of the technical experts attending the meeting said on condition of anonymity that discussion had focused on the need for other fuels, even coal, which is far more polluting than gas, and improved energy efficiency “as part of a bundle of measures.”

Russia provides around a third of EU gas imports, roughly half of which is piped via Ukraine. On average, Russia gets $5 billion per month in revenue from gas exports to the EU.

This story includes some reporting by Reuters.

Watch related video by Brian Padden from Kyiv:
 
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May 04, 2014 5:11 PM
As Ukraine expands its military offensive in the east, Kyiv remains quiet. But as VOA's Brian Padden reports life has not returned to normal, as many local residents worry about the growing conflict and wonder if the planned May 25th election can proceed under these conditions.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
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by: melwin from: India
May 07, 2014 11:29 AM
It is really correct that Russia will not attack.how can brother kill its own brother.

by: Molotov from: Stalingrad
May 07, 2014 3:37 AM
I see you moderators as usual with American media are hiding something. Why did you delete the post about Russian spetsnaz in eastern Ukraine? Like I said in my response, SO WHAT. Those people are begging for Russian help. In any case the hypocrisy lies where US has sent FBI and CIA agents to help the puppet regime, and you are going to complain about some spetsnaz agents

by: J Burger from: Chicago
May 06, 2014 10:42 PM
The goverment in kiev is not legitimate. G H W Bush said NATO would not expand east, but look at the alliance today-surrounding Russia. It is logical that Russia is taking the stance of concern with intervention possible. And why is the west turning a blind eye to the real semi-fascist groups now in power in Kiev? Whose interests does this serve? Surely not the American people!

by: drew from: somewhere
May 06, 2014 3:45 PM
Headline: "NATO's Top Commander: Russia WON'T Invade Ukraine"

First paragraph: "NATO's top military commander, General Philip Breedlove, said he DOES NOT THINK Russia will invade Ukraine, adding that the Kremlin has other ways to achieve its goals."

Somewhat conflicting... "WON'T" and "DOESN'T THINK" ... Who is the bigger idiot, the Commander of NATO, or the guy writing the article?
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
May 06, 2014 5:38 PM
The US and NATO "invades" other countries like Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan in all out war, killing everybody and destroying everything?
Russia "intervened" in Crimea, and just maybe in southeast Ukraine, without going to all out war?

by: john from: home
May 06, 2014 12:30 PM
They already have.

by: Not Again from: Canada
May 06, 2014 12:21 PM
"Russia won't invade Ukraine"... Russia is already in Ukraine and holding all of Crimea in its grip.

The type of shoulder launched anti-air missiles employed at Sloviansk, against the Ukraine's helicopters, are Russian made and probably operated. You can see some of the shoulder fired missiles, in media closeups, being carried on the backs of masked separatists. This is the same, in my opinion, individual, that announced that NATO had no plans to do anything in the Ukraine, just before Russia invaded and annexed the Crimea, it was a green light to the Russians.

You have to forgive him, he attended the same school, of risk prediction, that saw the Dec 7 attack on Pearl Harbour, not withstanding all the evidence, those in charge were playing golf...then; and now they are out to lunch. Sadly I think such carefree/careless assessment, in my view, can be considered as if he is giving the Russians a new green light; based on his comments one can deduce that NATO countries continue to have no inputs... ! Sad situation for World peace.
In Response

by: Molotov from: Stalingrad
May 06, 2014 7:29 PM
Excuse me, but are the Mi-24 HiND helicopters being used by the fascist puppet Kiev regime not Russian? Or to be politically correct, SOVIET?

You westerners are being lied too and believe everything your media tell you. You are doing the same thing in Ukraine as in Yugoslavia, trying to divide brothers to get them to fight each other all over the gas pipelines.

You are very lucky Stalin is gone, he would not have put of with this not for 5 seconds, Putin is very humble and is trying to be diplomatic. And he is much smarter then any of your politicians he is 3 chess moves ahead of you all.

And don't even dare enter mother Russia, the 3rd reich, who thought they were the "biggest war machine ever" could not take the motherland and you think NATO will? That is a joke.

by: melwin from: India
May 06, 2014 11:39 AM
Asking financial help form America is slaving yourself and your generation to America.example: all European countries dance on the American music

by: Александр Шепель from: Luhansk, Ukraine
May 06, 2014 9:42 AM
The first priority today is to carry out the presidential elections. What`s about hostilities Ukraine will win. And sooner or later return the Crimea. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Ukrainian heroes! Olexandr Shepel, Luhansk, Ukraine.

by: shane from: melbourne
May 06, 2014 7:26 AM
Sanctions have short term gain and long term loss. Sanctions don't make a country weaker, they make it stronger. So I guess anyone yelling about increasing sanctions on Russia all the time, needs to check their head and ask themselves what result they are looking for? Sanctions make countries more independent and less dependent on other countries. Independence is a strength, dependence is a weakness.

by: Alexander Sasin from: West Yorkshire
May 06, 2014 5:59 AM
Why is there a push by NATO eastwards? Let Ukraine find its own way corruption is inbred there wholesale no truths come from this part of the continent, Commander Breedlove is sounding more like Dr Stangelove, this anti Russophilia needs to end. Has these former CSS countries forgotten it was Russia that lost over 30 million during the war against Fascists they played a major part, why is there still an arrogance and posturing?
In Response

by: robroys from: Italy
May 06, 2014 1:54 PM
Listen, Alexander, or you have to learn history better or stop writing bullshit. It was Soviet union who lost people during Second Worls War not Russia. BTW Ukraine republic lost the most millions (from all Soviet republic) during this war.
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