News / Europe

    UN Concerns High Over Crimea Crisis

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gives a press conference at the UN Human rights Council session on March 3, 2014 in Geneva.
    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gives a press conference at the UN Human rights Council session on March 3, 2014 in Geneva.
    Margaret Besheer
    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday expressed “deep disappointment” and concern, a day after Ukraine’s Crimea region voted to align itself with Moscow in a controversial referendum. 

    Ban has been closely following the unfolding crisis in Ukraine. He has dispatched a series of senior U.N. officials to Kyiv, including the deputy secretary-general, to try to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis. He also spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

    His spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters the secretary-general is concerned that Sunday’s referendum declaring Crimea independent from Ukraine will only exacerbate the situation.  

    “He encourages all parties to work for a solution that is guided by the principles of the United Nations Charter, including respecting Ukraine’s unity and sovereignty," she said.

    The U.N. chief has refrained from pronouncing the referendum illegitimate. Ukraine’s interim authorities and their international supporters say it violated the country’s constitution. But Ban has called on all parties in the country and those with influence to avoid actions that could escalate tensions.

    Jeffrey Laurenti, a long-time U.N. analyst and researcher, says there is little the world body can do to stop Moscow.

    “The United Nations is hardly in a position to effectively challenge one of its principal guarantor powers on the Security Council. It could not stop the United States from invading Iraq, and it is not going to be able to stop Russia from taking over Crimea or other parts of Ukraine, if the Russians decided to push the envelope further," said Laurenti.

    Diplomats have expressed concern at Russia’s move toward annexing Crimea, saying it recalls the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the Hungarian revolution of 1956, and questioning where on the map the current crisis will end.

    Concerns were certainly not eased Monday, when Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as a sovereign state - a move seen as the first step toward absorbing the region into Russia.

    Analyst Laurenti says there have been several annexations since the U.N. was established in 1945 that have lingered unrecognized by the international community, and Crimea is likely to be added to the list.

    “Some have been undone - one thinks of Indonesia’s annexation of East Timor. Others remain under a giant question mark - one thinks of Western Sahara taken over by Morocco and the Israeli annexations of Golan [Heights] and East Jerusalem, and Crimea is undoubtedly going to fall in that category," he said. 

    Russia has said it is up to the people of Crimea to determine their future. President Putin has expressed concerns for ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in Crimea, although there is no evidence they have been subjected to bad treatment.

    Economic sanctions against Russian officials and their Ukrainian and Crimean allies were announced Monday in Brussels and Washington. They are mainly comprised of travel restrictions and asset freezes in the United States and European Union.

    While diplomatic efforts continue, the U.N. General Assembly plans to meet Thursday to discuss the crisis. But the General Assembly does not have powers like the Security Council, so it cannot take any significant measures against Moscow, other than to further isolate it with a large show of political support for Ukraine.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.