News / Europe

    US: Russia Firing Artillery Across Ukraine Border

    FILE - State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf is seen at a daily briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C.
    FILE - State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf is seen at a daily briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C.
    VOA News

    The United States is accusing Russia of firing on Ukrainian military positions in troubled eastern Ukraine from inside Russia. And Washington contends Moscow intends to supply pro-Russian rebels with bigger and more powerful weaponry to fight Kyiv's forces.

    A U.S. Defense Department spokesman said Russian forces fired artillery shots into Ukraine on Thursday. He described the Russian assault as "a clear escalation" of weeks-long fighting in eastern Ukraine between separatist rebels and the Ukrainian military attempting to retake control of rebel-held cities.

    At the State Department in Washington, spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. has "new evidence" from "our intelligence friends" that the Russians "intend to deliver heavier and more powerful rocket launchers to the separatist forces."

    She declined to say what the information was based on or divulge the "source and methods" of the intelligence.

    Russia has in the past denied that it is involved in the separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine. The United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of fomenting the unrest in Ukraine by training and arming rebels.

    The U.S. allegations come a week after a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board

    Ukraine PM quits

    Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has announced he is resigning, amid the break-up of the country’s ruling coalition in parliament.

    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk addresses parliament in Kyiv July 24, 2014.Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk addresses parliament in Kyiv July 24, 2014.
    x
    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk addresses parliament in Kyiv July 24, 2014.
    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk addresses parliament in Kyiv July 24, 2014.


    Yatsenyuk made the announcement Thursday, hours after two major political parties in the ruling coalition pulled out. Usually mild-mannered and even-keeled, he expressed frustration over parliament’s failure to pass crucial energy legislation and increase army financing as the county battles pro-Russia separatists in its east and tries to deal with the aftermath of a plane downing that killed 298 people.

    Referring to protests that ousted the previous government under president Viktor Yanukovych, he said Ukraine's politicians risk losing the hearts and minds of the thousands who protested for months in the Maidan (Kyiv’s central square) choosing a European course over continued subservience to Moscow.

    But Yatsenyuk, a central figure in talks with the European Union and the United States, will not be able to leave office immediately as he is expected to continue in his duties until a new prime minister and government are installed, observers say.

    Majority coalition break-up

    Hours earlier, lawmakers set the stage for early parliamentary elections to be held in Ukraine later this year.

    Members of parliament, mainly from two parties, dissolved a majority coalition, opening the way for President Petro Poroshenko to call an early vote, long demanded by many politicians and activists.

    Parliament members surround Oleh Tyahnybok (C), leader of the Svoboda (Freedom) Party, as he delivers a speech at the rostrum during a session in Kyiv July 24, 2014.Parliament members surround Oleh Tyahnybok (C), leader of the Svoboda (Freedom) Party, as he delivers a speech at the rostrum during a session in Kyiv July 24, 2014.
    x
    Parliament members surround Oleh Tyahnybok (C), leader of the Svoboda (Freedom) Party, as he delivers a speech at the rostrum during a session in Kyiv July 24, 2014.
    Parliament members surround Oleh Tyahnybok (C), leader of the Svoboda (Freedom) Party, as he delivers a speech at the rostrum during a session in Kyiv July 24, 2014.

    Ukraine’s current legislature is viewed by many in the country as a remnant of the pro-Moscow regime of president Viktor Yanukovych who was ousted in February amid massive anti-government protests.

    Poroshenko, who was overwhelmingly elected in May, welcomed the break-up of the coalition saying that early parliamentary elections will give Ukrainians the opportunity of a “full reset.”

    “Society wants a full reset of state authorities,” Poroshenko said in a statement, adding the move showed that those who decided to quit the coalition were acting on the will of the people.

    One nationalist lawmaker said an early poll will cleanse parliament of “Moscow agents.”

    “We believe that in the current situation, a parliament which protects state criminals, Moscow agents, which refuses to strip immunity from those people who are working for the Kremlin, should not exist,'' said Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the Svoboda (Freedom) party, one of the two that left the majority coalition.

    In Ukraine, lawmakers enjoy immunity from prosecution.

    Elections are expected to be held in October.

    Continued fighting

    Amid reports of continued fighting in the country’s east, Ukraine’s military says it is pressing on with a push-back of rebels into one of their main strongholds of Donetsk, with officials saying separatist fighters are abandoning positions outside the city.

    ``We are noticing the further strengthening... of attack positions and defense, as well as the movement of armored vehicles into towns around Donetsk, in Horlivka and Ilovaisk,'' the Ukrainian military said in a statement Thursday.

    The sound of artillery fire echoed in the south and northwest of Donetsk with one district reportedly without electricity, due to damaged substations, local officials said.

    Meanwhile, remote-controlled explosive devices have been found in a school in the city of Slovyansk, formerly held by rebels, a Ukrainian security official said.

    Authorities assume rebels were planning to detonate them when children are scheduled to return to school in early September, said Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council at a briefing Thursday.

    Commenting on two Ukrainian military jets downed Wednesday, Lysenko softened earlier accusations that one of them may have been shot down with a missile fired from Russia. Kyiv was “not accusing anyone,” but only considering possible scenarios, he said. He also said that the jets’ pilots had survived.

    More Russia sanctions

    European Union ambassadors agreed on Thursday to expand sanctions on Russia over Ukraine by adding 15 people and 18 companies or other organizations to the bloc's existing list of punitive measures, diplomats said.

    However, after lengthy talks in Brussels, they failed to reach agreement on sectoral sanctions against the Russian economy and are to resume discussions on Friday morning, diplomats said.

    The ambassadors also agreed to expand the criteria for the EU's sanctions to include companies and people who support Russian decision-makers deemed responsible for destabilizing Ukraine.  

    Russia reacted harshly to the prospect of sectoral sanctions.

    “In my view the sectoral sanctions against Russia may well trigger a long anticipated end-game of the present global crisis,” said Russia’s ambassador to Britain Alexander Yakovenko.

    Yakovenko also blasted a decision by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to curtail cooperation with Russia, saying it would harm all parties involved.

    Journalist abducted

    A freelance journalist working for CNN has been abducted in eastern Ukraine, the latest in a string of attacks on media workers in recent weeks.

    The U.S. network made Anton Skiba's kidnapping public Thursday, two days after armed separatists allegedly took him from a hotel room in rebel-held Donetsk.

    Skiba said in a brief phone call with CNN on Wednesday that he was being questioned at the headquarters of the Donetsk security services.

    The network said it had not immediately publicized Skiba's abduction as efforts were made since Tuesday to obtain his release.

    U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt wrote on Twitter Thursday that the intimidation of journalists in Donetsk must stop.

    ​At least 13 other journalists have been injured or detained while working in eastern Ukraine since early July, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

    Some information provided by Reuters.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora