News / Europe

Ukraine's Poroshenko Vows $3 Billion for Military

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko sings the national anthem during a parade to celebrate the country's Independence Day in Kyiv, Aug. 24, 2014.
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko sings the national anthem during a parade to celebrate the country's Independence Day in Kyiv, Aug. 24, 2014.
VOA News

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to increase military spending by $3 billion over the next few years because of the ongoing pro-Russian separatist threat in the east of Ukraine.

Poroshenko made the comment Sunday in Kyiv during a speech marking Independence Day, 23 years after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

He told a crowd of thousands gathered in Independence Square to view a military parade that it is clear the separatist threat will "hang over Ukraine" for the foreseeable future, and the country must be prepared to defend itself.

On Saturday, Western monitors said the Russian aid convoy that crossed into Ukraine Friday had gone back to Russia, easing international tensions as German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Ukraine's capital voicing renewed hopes for peace.

German chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 23, 2014.German chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 23, 2014.
x
German chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 23, 2014.
German chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 23, 2014.

Merkel met with President Poroshenko, and pledged $660 million in German aid to help rebuild cities in eastern Ukraine battered by months of fighting.  

Pro-Russian rebels in the Russian-speaking east launched their rebellion in April.  Since then, an estimated 2,000 people have been killed as government forces seek to regain control of the region.  

Merkel said her visit, just three days ahead of a meeting between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine, comes at "a difficult but decisive time" for Ukraine's territorial integrity.  She also warned that Moscow could face further economic sanctions if its support for the rebellion continues.

As the high-level diplomacy unfolded in Kyiv, at least six civilians were reported killed by artillery fire in the key rebel stronghold city of Donetsk, as Ukraine's forces press their fight against rebels near the Russian border.

In a related development, the U.S. State Department voiced shock Saturday over reports that a top Lithuanian diplomat was abducted and murdered by rebels in the the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk.  Spokeswoman Marie Harf also extended condolences to the diplomat's family and said U.S. authorities were still "seeking information on the circumstances of this tragedy."

Lithuanian authorities reported Friday that Honorary Consul Mykola Zelenec was kidnapped and killed, but did not immediately provide details.

Trucks from Russian aid convoy to Ukraine stand in line as they return to Russia on the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 23, 2014.Trucks from Russian aid convoy to Ukraine stand in line as they return to Russia on the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 23, 2014.
x
Trucks from Russian aid convoy to Ukraine stand in line as they return to Russia on the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 23, 2014.
Trucks from Russian aid convoy to Ukraine stand in line as they return to Russia on the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 23, 2014.

The entry of Russia's convoy into Ukraine, following days of waiting as delivery details were negotiated with Kyiv, raised an outcry from Ukraine, the United States, NATO and the European Union.

White House officials called the crossing a flagrant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and demanded Russia remove the convoy or face consequences.

In acknowledging the incursion, the Russian Foreign Ministry referred to "endless delays hampering the initial deliveries" and said those delays had become "intolerable."  It also described the aid as "urgently needed by women, children and the elderly."

Ukraine and its allies had for days expressed fears Russia could use the aid trucks to smuggle arms to pro-Russian separatists inside Ukraine, or use the convoy as a prelude to a full-scale military operation.

There were no reports by late Saturday of either Russian smuggling linked to the convoy or ongoing Russian military operations in Ukraine territory.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs