News / Europe

Diplomat: US Expectations Low for Talks with Russia on Ukraine

  • A pro-Russian protester whose helmet reads "Donetsk Republic," pickets a building where Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was meeting with regional leaders from eastern Ukraine, in Donetsk, April 11, 2014.
  • Leaders of pro-Russian protesters hold a news briefing inside the seized office of the SBU state security service in Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine, April 11, 2014.
  • A group of pro-Russian activists warm themselves at a bonfire next to barricades in front of an entrance to the Ukrainian regional office of the Security Service in Luhansk, Ukraine, April 11, 2014.
  • Motorists watch a Ukrainian military convoy pass by near the city of Donetsk, Ukraine, April 10, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian protesters set barbed wire on a barricade outside the SBU state security service in Luhansk, Ukraine, April 10, 2014.
  • Masked pro-Russian activists guard barricades at the regional administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine, April 9, 2014.
  • A pro-Russian activist speaks to other protesters at barricades in front of a security service regional office in Luhansk, Ukraine, April 9, 2014.
  • A masked man stands in front of barricades and Soviet era red and Russian national flags at an entrance to the regional office of the security service in Luhansk, Ukraine, April 9, 2014.
  • Communist lawmakers scuffle with right-wing Svoboda (Freedom) Party lawmakers during a session of the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv, April 8, 2014.
  • A view through a broken window of the regional administration building shows a cordon of Interior Ministry members blocking a group of pro-Russian protesters in Kharkiv, Ukraine, April 8, 2014.
  • Street cleaners sweep away bullet cases as they remove trash and a barricade erected by pro-Russian protesters near a building of the state security service in Donetsk, Ukraine, April 8, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian activists gather behind a barricade with Russian flags in front of the entrance to the regioanl security service office in Luhansk, west of the Russian border, in Ukraine, April 8, 2014.
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VOA News
U.S. expectations for talks with Russia on the Ukraine crisis next week are not high, the top U.S. diplomat for Europe said on Wednesday, but it is essential to make every effort to ease tensions.
 
Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland also reiterated the U.S. accusation that Russia was behind the takeover of government buildings in eastern Ukraine this week.
 
Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union will hold a ministerial meeting next week to discuss the Ukraine crisis, the EU said on Tuesday.
 
“We don't have high expectations for these talks, but we do believe it is very important to keep that diplomatic door open,” Nuland testified at a congressional hearing.

Russia told the West on Wednesday that four-way talks between representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the United States and European Union must focus on fostering dialogue among Ukrainians and not on bilateral relations among the participants.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivered the message in a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the Foreign Ministry said. It said Lavrov and Kerry urged all sides to refrain from violence in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ukraine's interior minister warned that standoffs with pro-Russia demonstrators in three eastern regions must be resolved in the next 48 hours, either through negotiations or by force.

Arsen Avakov told reporters that a "political solution" is still possible. But he vowed protesters who want conflict "will get a forceful response from Ukrainian authorities."

Pro-Moscow groups have seized several government buildings in eastern Ukraine and demanded a vote on joining Russia, in a dramatic escalation of the protests against the country's Western-friendly interim government.

Authorities say shots were fired and at least 60 protesters arrested in Kharkiv Tuesday, while demonstrators held on to government offices captured Sunday in Donetsk.

In Luhansk, Ukrainian authorities say more than 50 people were allowed to leave state security headquarters early Wednesday, where the pro-Russia activists were allegedly holding 60 hostages. Officials say the protesters have wired the building with explosives.

Kerry sees Russia's hand

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accuses Russian agents and special forces of stoking separatist unrest in eastern Ukraine.

He called the Russian actions "a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea."
Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington April 8, 2014.Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington April 8, 2014.
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Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington April 8, 2014.
Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington April 8, 2014.


Kerry told a Senate committee Tuesday that Moscow's involvement in Ukraine "clear and unmistakable."

He said President Barack Obama is preparing more tough sanctions on Russia if it continues destabilizing Ukraine.

A buildup of troops along Russia's border with Ukraine has raised concerns that Moscow could move to take parts of eastern Ukraine, following its annexation of the largely ethnic Russian Crimean peninsula last month.

Moscow claims business as usual

Russia's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said Moscow is not carrying out any "unusual or unplanned activity on its territory near the border with Ukraine that would be of military significance."

But few are convinced. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers Russia has not taken sufficient steps to ease tensions. She urged an international observer mission in Ukraine be bolstered to include 500 people.

Russia orders US educators to leave

Russia’s government has informed a U.S.-sponsored education program to cease operations in the Russian Federation.

American Councils, a Washington-based program agency administering a number of educational and exchange initiatives, has been told by the Ministry of Justice to halt its activities until its registration is renewed, said Carter Johnson, regional director for the organization.

Under the order, all expatriates working for the organization are expected to leave Russia pending the program’s re-registration, said Johnson.

Before issuing the order, the Justice Ministry reportedly requested from American Councils to provide an activity report for the past six months and submit a plan of operations for the next half year.

According to American Councils, this was the first time the ministry requested such detailed documentation.

Some observers have linked the development to President Vladimir Putin’s speech earlier this month before Russian security officials in which he called on them to be on the look-out for “destructive” activities on the part of foreign non-governmental organizations.

Russia faces capital flight

A surge in capital outflows from Russia underscores how international tensions over Ukraine are adding to the woes of Russia's already struggling economy.

Russia's central bank has published balance of payments data that showed an estimated $63.7 billion in net capital outflow in the first three months of this year - as much as the $63 billion in outflows seen during all of 2013.

The surge coincides with slumping investment and a sharp deterioration in business confidence, as forecasters slash economic growth forecasts after Russia's annexation of Crimea and warnings it could intervene further in Ukraine.

Economists say much of the outflow is being driven by companies and ordinary households, which have been rushing to convert their ruble savings into dollars.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday Russia should be prepared to spur domestic production to replace Ukrainian imports if Kyiv decides to impose trade restrictions.

In a move to bolster Ukraine, European Union on Wednesday announced the creation of a “support group” to provide the country with financial, technical and political assistance.  EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the initiative is evidence that “the European Union stands by Ukraine."

VOA's Al Pessin contributed to this story. Some reporting by Reuters.
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Comments
     
by: Bryan from: Puerto Vallarta
April 10, 2014 3:30 AM
it is silly if the US expects to stop the Kremlin from attacking Ukraine! Don't they know that Russia is a dictatorship? Of course they do! The people in Ukraine? Do they want to be under a dictatorship from the Kremlin? Do they want to be lumped together with other dictatorships like that in Belarus and Kazakhstan? I don't think so? Those countries and rush I have had the same leaders for almost 20 years without real elections..the Kremlin stop elections in Russia 10 years ago in the local elections and governor ships.. So there are no politician that disagree with the Kremlin Which the people can vote for! Plus the Kremlin to cover all the national television stations! You think this is a democracy? You think this is the kind of country that Ukrainians want? How ridiculous! And to think that they are fighting the most powerful dictatorship in the world and President Obama will not help them! President Obama is the only man in the world who can stop this dictatorship in the Kremlin from taking over more countries! What he should do is getting money to to the government in Kiev to hire trips such as Blackwater and get the latest weapons from President Obama to defend themselves from the Russian tanks and aircraft! This is the only thing that will stop the Kremlin! Am i smarter than all the politicians in Washington? Except John McCain! He is the only one who knows what he is talking about and his speaking the truth!

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
April 10, 2014 3:20 AM
He said President Barack Obama is preparing more tough sanctions on Russia if it continues destabilizing Ukraine, this comment from Sec. Kerry proves to me that the most sanctions has been done to Russia as far as Crimea is concerned,now why is the US still acting the same way that embolden Putin to act? At list now Germany's Merkel has called for a very seasonable move by putting some form 500 boots on the ground as monitors is a welcoming move which US's Obama should take they should give back Ukraine what they took to ensure their territory and tier that signed paper or document because its invalid.

by: GRIDAgent
April 10, 2014 3:00 AM
American rats exposed in Ukraine. Soldier uniformed as ukraine soldier caught in ukraine and will most likely to be sent to russia for questioning. Liveleak. Good, i hope hes sent to gulag.

by: ScoobyDoo911 from: Moon
April 09, 2014 11:52 PM
So what if USA/ NATO, in saying they won't become involved militarily, are just saying such, same way Russia states it is only conducting military exercises?

Additionally, I find it "interesting" NATO is leaving Afghanistan, conveniently as Ukraine becomes just the hot potato NATO was created for as i see it. No need for anyone to lecture me on NATO divine purpose here.

As I see it Ukraine is as defenseless as it gets and Putin is simply going to start taking chunks of it's old empire back as long as we let him. Of course the Ukrainians do have to stand up and show the world it is ready to fight for it's freedom also. Screaming for USA & UK's help is nice, but what is more important is seeing the Ukrainian people actually preparing for war, showing NATO and USA they are serious.

Resent developments in eastern cities shows Ukraine will crack down on terrorist actions of a few to disrupt various regions. But is is naive to think Putin will stop with the east. His forces are steadily making their way towards Odessa to stir unrest. And if we do not start "helping", there's not going to be a Ukraine on the world map to point to.

And would someone please go wake up President Obama and inform him, that he needs to start acting like the leader of the free world? I mean I get that Obama doesn't want to be responsible for getting USA involved in another war, but it's not like GWB wanted to either. Conversely Putin wants war. The least USA / NATO could do at some point in near future is give Ukrainians, who have armed themselves the moral support they deserve.

by: Beentheredonethat from: USA
April 09, 2014 6:25 PM
Putin has to appear strong to the West,
defending the last Ukraine president. But that said there is an ethnic move in the east to embrace a more Russian image. This would also be a concern for the new government in Kiev, if not for the heavy handed intervention of Russia. But this is not 1934 and an anchluss will not work this time....we all know how it turned out.

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
April 09, 2014 1:57 PM
In an effort to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine, the U.S., the European Union, Russia and representatives of Ukraine’s government are set to meet in Europe next week.??why do you still believe and take Russia's word knowing Putin is just laying along your plans and acting unilaterally?wake up West.

by: Dr. Leskowich from: Federation
April 09, 2014 9:56 AM
Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh (who uncovered the Iraq prison torture scandal and the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam) says that high-level American sources tell him that theTurkish government carried out the chemical weapons attacks blamed on the Syrian government.
Indeed, it’s long been known that sarin was coming through Turkey. Turkey is a member of NATO. So we’re really talking about a NATO member launching a false flag attack against a non-NATO member, and then blaming it on the victim.

Indeed, a new tape recording of top Turkish officials planning a false flag attack to be blamed on Syria as a causus belli was just leaked a couple of weeks ago, and confirmed by Turkey as being authentic. In other words, since the last big Turkish false flag didn’t succeed in launching war against Syria, they’re going to try again. This is not the first false flag by NATO members. For example:

The former Italian Prime Minister, an Italian judge, and the former head of Italian counterintelligenceadmit that NATO, with the help of the Pentagon and CIA, carried out terror bombings in Italy and other European countries in the 1950s and blamed the communists, in order to rally people’s support for their governments in Europe in their fight against communism. As one participant in this formerly-secret program stated: “You had to attack civilians, people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security”(and see this)(Italy and other European countries subject to the terror campaign had joined NATO before the bombings occurred). And watch this BBC special

Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest were actually undercover Quebec police officers. At the G20 protests in London in 2009, a British member of parliament saw plain clothes police officers attempting to incite the crowd to violence The U.S. has engaged in many false flag attacks (and has been arming the Syrian opposition since2006 … even though most of the opposition fighters are Al Qaeda terrorists)

Postscript: It’s not just NATO members …the Nazis, Soviets, Algerians, Indonesians, Israelis and othershave used false flag terror as well.
In Response

by: ScoobyDoo911 from: Moon
April 10, 2014 12:06 AM
Call me silly, but I think Russian spies are doing a good job of creating much smaller and more violent groups of MOBS who are doing a great job of scaring the hell out of the Ukrainian people, causing a majority to ask Ukraine to join NATO, thus putting Russia in a very tight spot.

At this point don't you think Putin is begging for someone in the west to put their foot down, so he can deescalate the situation? That said he needs us to do it militarily, NOT Obama's way.

That said EU NATO members must also stand up, grow up. This is their fight first, USA can help, but should not take the lead.

by: Ivan from: Russia
April 09, 2014 4:26 AM
following closing MacDonalds he (mr. Obama) would probably deprive Russia of snikers ))))))))

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