News / Europe

    Obama Reaffirms Commitment to Ukraine

    Ukraine’s President Presses for More US Military Aidi
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    Aru Pande
    September 19, 2014 12:44 AM
    Ukraine’s president is urging the United States to stand with his country as it fights what he says is a war for a free world. Petro Poroshenko used his visit to Washington Thursday to appeal for more military support as Ukrainian troops battle Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east. VOA’s Aru Pande has more from the White House.
    ເບິ່ງວີດີໂອເລື້ອງນີ້
    VOA News

    President Barack Obama has offered additional security assistance to Ukraine in its standoff with Russia.

    Speaking Thursday at the White House following talks with visiting President Petro Poroshenko at his side, Obama announced an additional $53 million in fresh aid to Ukraine - $46 million to bolster Ukraine's security and $7 million in humanitarian aid.

    Obama praised the Ukrainian leader for brokering a recent cease-fire in the conflict in the county’s east and for pushing through legislation granting areas controlled by pro-Russia rebels broader self-rule.

    Affirming once again that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are not negotiable, Obama said that the U.S. will continue to mobilize the international community to seek a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

    “Russia cannot dictate the terms,” Obama assured Poroshenko, saying that he has “a strong friend not only in me personally” but also strong bipartisan support in Congress.

    In related developments, the White House says U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will lead a U.S. delegation to Ukraine next week for talks on economic reforms needed to build an economy that attracts private capital.

    Poroshenko addresses Congress

    Earlier Thursday, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, whose country has seen part of its territory annexed by Russia and another part destabilized by pro-Russian separatists, has called on U.S. lawmakers to continue to support Ukraine in its quest for freedom and democracy.

    Speaking in Washington before a joint session of Congress ahead of his meeting with President Barack Obama later Thursday, Poroshenko thanked lawmakers for the support and solidarity the United States has already shown Ukraine in the face of foreign aggression.

    “There are moments in history when freedom is more than just a political concept. At that moment, freedom becomes the ultimate choice which defines who you are, as a person – and as a nation,” Poroshenko said, referrering to his country’s struggle to protect its territorial integrity.

    'Stabbed in the back' by Russia

    Pointing a finger at Russia, Poroshenko told U.S. lawmakers that Ukraine, which voluntarily surrendered its nuclear arsenal, the world’s third-largest at the time, in return for security assurances “was stabbed in the back by one of the countries [which] gave her those assurances.”

    Poroshenko was referring to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, signed by Russia, the U.S. and Britain, in which Ukraine received guarantees on its sovereignty and territorial integrity in return for giving up its nuclear weapons.

    Acknowledging long standing ovations by lawmakers during his nearly one-hour speech, Poroshenko called on the U.S. to grant Ukraine a special status to help it deal with the aggression it faces. 

    “I strongly encourage the United States to give Ukraine a special security and defense status which [would] reflect the highest level of interaction with a non-NATO ally,” he said.

    Pointing to the threats and challenges confronting Ukraine, Poroshenko said that they are not Ukraine’s alone, and that the world must make a "choice between civilization and barbarism."

    “The free world must stand its ground. And with America’s help, it will,” he said.

    Invoking the slogan of the American Revolution “live free or die,” and referring to street protests which brought down Ukraine’s previous Moscow-backed government earlier this year, Poroshenko said that it was the same slogan that inspired Ukrainians to rise up for their own “revolution of dignity.”

    • President Petro Poroshenko, escorted by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is welcomed by U.S. lawmakers as he arrives to address a joint meeting of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2014.
    • Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko pauses while addressing a joint meeting of Congress in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2014.
    • A Ukrainian serviceman stands at a checkpoint near the town of Horlivka in eastern Ukraine, Sept. 18, 2014.
    • Ukrainian servicemen inspect cars at a checkpoint near the town of Horlivka in eastern Ukraine, Sept. 18, 2014.
    • A Ukrainian army soldier holds an amulet given to him by an unknown child, Debaltsevo, Donetsk's region, Ukraine, Sept. 18, 2014.
    • Rebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the pro-Russian Vostok Battalion says hundreds of Russian volunteers are supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine, offering them vital experience in battle tactics and training to attack Ukrainian forces, in Donetsk, Sept. 17, 2014.

    Military aid

    Poroshenko, who declared a cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine on September 5, in meetings with U.S. officials, was widely expected to press for additional military assistance beyond the $70 million promised by Washington late last month.

    In his speech before Congress, he said that with his country seeking a "strong modern army," it needs both non-lethal and lethal military aid.

    A Ukrainian serviceman smokes at a checkpoint near the town of Horlivka, Donetsk region, in eastern Ukraine, Sept. 18, 2014.A Ukrainian serviceman smokes at a checkpoint near the town of Horlivka, Donetsk region, in eastern Ukraine, Sept. 18, 2014.
    x
    A Ukrainian serviceman smokes at a checkpoint near the town of Horlivka, Donetsk region, in eastern Ukraine, Sept. 18, 2014.
    A Ukrainian serviceman smokes at a checkpoint near the town of Horlivka, Donetsk region, in eastern Ukraine, Sept. 18, 2014.

    A bill to provide Ukraine with both non-lethal and lethal support has already been drafted in Congress, according to Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, co-chair of the Ukraine Congressional Caucus and co-author of the document.

    Speaking to VOA following Poroshenko’s speech, she said that he has “wall-to-wall” support in the U.S. legislature.

    The White House has so far stopped short of supplying lethal aid to the Kyiv government, choosing instead to focus on punishing Moscow with wide-ranging economic sanctions for its annexation of Crimea and its support of a separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine. Moscow is denying involvement.

    European Union nations, Canada, Australia, Japan and Switzerland have also imposed sanctions against Moscow.

    According to estimates, some 3,000 people have died in the fighting in eastern Ukraine and more than a quarter million people have been driven from their homes.

    More threats from Putin?

    Russia’s president has allegedly issued a threat to former Soviet bloc countries that are now part of the European Union and NATO, in addition to one he voiced earlier with regard to Ukraine.

    “If I wanted to, within two days Russian troops could be not only in Kyiv, but also in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw or Bucharest,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko cited Vladimir Putin as telling him in a conversation, German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Thursday.

    Poroshenko shared information about the threats with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso during the latter’s visit to Kyiv last Friday, the paper said citing a German Foreign Ministry document.

    Putin had earlier made a similar verbal threat against the Ukrainian capital in a telephone call with Barosso, when he claimed to be able to “take Kyiv” within two weeks, the European Commission president said in late August.

    The Kremlin has dismissed the latest report as misinformation. Commentig earlier on Barrosso's statements, it expressed its dismay over him making public the contents of what it referred to as private conversations.

    According to Ukrainian media, Poroshenko's office has not confirmed the report.

    Russia trade sanctions

    Also on Thursday, President Putin said Western sanctions against Russia violated the principles of the World Trade Organization and the main way to combat them was to develop the domestic market.

    At a meeting with senior officials, Putin said Russia had no intention of punishing the West for the sanctions, imposed over Moscow's role in Ukraine, and said instead they had challenged Russia to strengthen its economy, boost competition and spur lending.

    “In taking responsive measures, we first of all think about our own interests regarding the task of development and protecting our producers and markets from unfair competition,” Putin said.

    “And our main goal is to use one of Russia's main competitive advantages - a large domestic market, and to fill it with high-quality goods produced by our nation's firms," he added.

    The Ukraine crisis has plunged ties between the West and Russia to their lowest since the Cold War, and Putin criticized countries that imposed sanctions for violating the spirit of the WTO, which he said embodied free and fair economic competition.

    Russia joined the WTO in 2012 after 18 years of on-and-off negotiations on the terms of its entry.

    Countries enforcing trade sanctions do not have to justify them at the WTO unless they are challenged in a trade dispute. Justifications for restricting trade can range from environmental and health reasons to religious scruples.

    Human rights violations

    Meanwhile, the international watchdog Human Rights Watch is calling on the United States to urge Ukraine to reign in human rights violations allegedly being committed in the country's east.

    The rights group has accused both sides in the conflict of carrying out indiscriminate acts that have killed or injured civilians and destroyed civilian property.

    On Wednesday, Ukraine ordered its armed forces to maintain "full combat readiness" near the Russian border, after new fighting and reports of at least 12 more fatalities further strained an already-shaky cease-fire with pro-Russian separatists.

    The casualties were the first reported since Ukraine's parliament voted Tuesday to grant rebels temporary self-rule in the parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions already under their control.

    That temporary self-rule concession and a broad amnesty for many rebel fighters were Ukraine's strongest public peace overtures since separatists launched their rebellion against Kyiv's rule five months ago. 

    Cindy Saine contributed to this report from Capitol Hill.
     

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: Paul Rattenbury from: Whistler.eh
    September 19, 2014 8:58 PM
    So; M. le Moderateur:
    What was wrong with my comment. I have been looking at this current event for some time and Cohne has presented the most coherent story so far... and my attempted post was a reasonably succinct digest of what Prof. Cohen has been saying for a few months. You should listen to Bachelor's show a and debate le facts de Cohen. I mean it is not like I was demanding really conscientious journalism on your part. And I didn't even mention thermate residue in the dust...
    It all started in the early years of WW2 when ol' Uncle Joe was waiting for Roosevelt to begin a second front... but Roosevelt thought it was good that Germany and Russia were duking it out while Britain was being drained...

    by: Paul Rattenbury from: Whistler.eh
    September 19, 2014 8:48 PM
    Listen to the John Bachelor Show and interviews with Stephen F. Cohen. 1. Current Ukrainian Crisis resulted from the failure of the EU trade agreement ~ Kiev didn't want trade with Russia. 3. Kleptocratic Yanucovych gets the coup. 3.Oligarchic Poroshenko wants NATO to come the rescue. 4. Putin will not let NATO into the Ukraine. 5. A bunch of stu** happens; mostly involving Gangs of Ukrainian Oligarchs and Ukrainian Pensioners. 6. Chancellor Merkle said a non-military solution is the only way forward. 7. Ukraine owes Russia $5Billion for natural gas and winter is coming. 8. Europe is now divided between non-military solution ( France, Spain,Italy, Germany ) and the war mongers ( Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, 'for some reason England' ) 9. Question: Does America have a clue ? I must conclude it does and it is using Europe and the Ukraine to further destabilize the Planet by promoting a new cold war.

    by: Jim from: Arkansas
    September 19, 2014 11:13 AM
    Good article until the paragraph on Putin's threat. Shows bias because this has already be discredited by the parties involved. Putin was going to release the entire conversation and Barosso crawfished and told the truth.

    by: Anonymous from: Ukraine
    September 19, 2014 1:27 AM
    VOA you need to make your identification system more advanced. Reader must not write his location on it's own. I can post 10 comments tapping 10 different countries. It doesn't reflect my opinion or opinions of others,but serve for Russia's KGB propaganda service to promote its goal to discredit Ukraine.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    September 18, 2014 2:26 PM
    Listening to Petro Poroshenko make his speech, one cannot but understand it to be a war declaration. In all reality Poroshenko is in self a provocation, an invitation to chaos and a reactivation of the cold war. Poroshenko is trying to bring chaos to the world through his unguarded taunting of Russia which it invites to war. By joining force with NATO Poroshenko can only fast track his country’s destruction as well as shorten the time for another world war in that Russia will not allow it to lie low if any country joins with Ukraine to strike at it from any front. That will simply mean widening the warfronts which, with its nuclear arsenal and automated warfare, Russia will even ask for more. The fear is that it must ultimately end up in nuclear warfare that is likely not going to do the world that remains after it any good. It is unfortunate that Russia has little or no confidants within the region any more – no thanks to Baroso – and that is going to add to fast tracking of indignation that can ignite the keg of gunpowder on which the world, nay Europe and NATO alliance sit on presently.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous from: Germany
    September 19, 2014 1:19 AM
    If you want a peace be ready to wage a war.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    September 18, 2014 2:21 PM
    Listening to Petro Poroshenko make his speech, one cannot but understand it to be a war declaration. In all reality Poroshenko is in self a provocation, an invitation to chaos and a reactivation of the cold war. Poroshenko is trying to bring chaos to the world through his unguarded taunting of Russia which it invites to war. By joining force with NATO Poroshenko can only fast track his country’s destruction as well as shorten the time for another world war in that Russia will not allow it to lie low if any country joins with Ukraine to strike at it from any front.

    That will simply mean widening the warfronts which, with its nuclear arsenal and automated warfare, Russia will even ask for more. The fear is that it must ultimately end up in nuclear warfare that is likely not going to do the world that remains after it any good. It is unfortunate that Russia has little or no confidants within the region any more – no thanks to Baroso – and that is going to add to fast tracking of indignation that can ignite the keg of gunpowder on which the world, nay Europe and NATO alliance sit on presently.

    by: Wayne from: USA
    September 18, 2014 1:59 PM
    Don't waste my tax dollars on supply Ukraine with weapons or security services. Spend the money here at home where American Citizens need help themselves! America is not the Mother of World.

    by: Irina from: US
    September 18, 2014 12:26 PM
    The Kremlin has not commented but has expressed its dismay over Barosso making public the contents of what it referred to as private conversations. Funny I read the Russia was willing to release the recording and firmly said it was taken out of context.

    by: platano from: Earth
    September 18, 2014 12:14 PM
    If I were President Poroshenko I would not agree on shelling civilians. That is horrible.

    by: John from: USA
    September 18, 2014 11:56 AM
    Step 1 toward freedom and democracy in the Ukraine is to get rid of Poroshenko and the entire Ukraine oligarchy with him.
    Comments page of 2
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