News / Europe

Ukrainian Leaders Still Unsure About Russia's Intentions

An armed man, who is wearing black and orange ribbons of St. George - a symbol widely associated with pro-Russian protests in Ukraine, stands guard in front of barricades outside the mayor's office in Slovyansk April 18, 2014.
An armed man, who is wearing black and orange ribbons of St. George - a symbol widely associated with pro-Russian protests in Ukraine, stands guard in front of barricades outside the mayor's office in Slovyansk April 18, 2014.
A day after four-way talks in Geneva aimed at de-escalating a volatile standoff in eastern Ukraine, leaders in the former Soviet republic still remain unsure about Russian intentions.

Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia repeated concerns also voiced by President Barack Obama Thursday, regarding Russian promises to help de-escalate the tense standoff in eastern Ukraine between Moscow-backed separatists and the government in Kyiv.
 
"I don't know what Russia, President Putin, what Russia has in mind regarding the eastern Ukraine. However we still believe there are diplomatic means to de-escalate the situation," Deshchytsia said.
 
The foreign minister had just returned to Kyiv from Geneva, where top diplomats from the United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union struck an agreement on a series of steps to tamp down violence and political unrest in Ukraine's restive east.
 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's denials that Moscow has fomented the unrest and sent intelligence operatives in to coach and assist the separatists made the day-long negotiations in Geneva tougher, Ukrainian officials say.
 
"He was cooperative and aggressive at the same time," Deshchytsia said of his Russian counterpart.
 
Geneva deal

The deal sketched out in Geneva provides amnesty for separatist protesters who evacuate government buildings in a dozen cities in eastern Ukraine they have occupied, except for those found guilty of capital crimes.
 
All illegal groups are required to disarm as well. It also outlines a commitment by the government in Kyiv to transfer more power to regional authorities.

But the first wrinkles have already appeared. Defiant pro-Russian militants say they won't leave government buildings they are occupying until Ukraine's interim government quits or until Ukrainian security forces have been pulled back.

Clashes in east

On Thursday, Ukrainian forces engaged pro-Russian separatists in the most intense clash yet in the crisis, killing three militants and wounding 13 after separatists attacked a military base in Mariupol, a southeastern port town on the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine's foreign minister isn't alone in doubting the Kremlin's promises to help defuse the crisis. The country's economy minister, Pavlo Sheremeta, also harbors doubts about the Geneva deal.
 
"I think we share President Obama's concern yesterday that he said that we are unsure what it all means, especially for Russia. We shall see. We will see, too. We are not terribly excited about it. It is much tougher to kid us into some kind of memos nowadays.
 
"Even the war of words is much better than the war of bullets," he added.
 
Challenges remain

But more challenges remain ahead - even if the deal holds, and the separatists accept it and leave the buildings they have seized.  Ukraine's foreign minister says there was much they could not reach an agreement on in Geneva.
 
"We also discussed the issue of the Ukrainian constitution; the issue of the so-called federalization," he noted. "We also discussed the issue of the Russian language. We also discussed the issue of the Russian involvement into the activities in eastern Ukraine. Those are the issues that we did not get agreement to discuss more deeply and to get a consensus."

Obama says the United State is ready to impose fresh economic sanctions on Russia if the Kremlin doesn't make good on its Geneva commitments.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
April 18, 2014 2:47 PM
If America represents the good (amabo) , then Russia represents the other side of the coin.One gives one takes, and Mr Putin is in the position of paying it all off in blood. If he fails to do this, then his own blood is on the line.That is how it has all ended up.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs