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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid