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 Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid