World News

    UN to Vote on Crimea Resolution

    The U.N. Security Council will vote Saturday on a U.S.-drafted resolution urging countries not to recognize the results of an upcoming Crimean referendum.

    Sunday's referendum gives residents of Crimea only two choices: joining Russia or the significant strengthening of their autonomy within Ukraine. A vote in favor of joining Russia is widely seen as a forgone conclusion in the majority Russian-speaking region on the Black Sea, which has hosted czarist and Kremlin navies since the 18th century.

    Diplomats say they expect Russia to veto Saturday's vote at the U.N., while supporters say 13 of the 15 Council members will approve the resolution. Meanwhile, China has not said how it will vote. If Moscow's close ally abstains, it would demonstrate Russia's extensive international isolation.

    The U.N. resolution reaffirms Ukraine's territorial integrity, and declares Sunday's referendum "can have no validity."

    On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in central Moscow for rival rallies on Crimea.

    Supporters of the Crimea referendum waved Russian and Soviet Union flags as they marched to Moscow's Revolution Square. Many of them wore identical red and black outfits.

    Separately, chanting opponents waved Ukrainian and Russian flags. Some voiced concern that Russian intervention in Crimea could lead to war.



    International monitors began arriving in Crimea on Saturday to observe Sunday's vote. The monitors were invited by Russia and pro-Russian Crimean officials.

    Alexander Simov, a Bulgarian journalist, said he believes the vote is legitimate.



    "I am going to watch the whole process. To see... I think it that it is a legal referendum. So I think it is going to be very legal."



    Another monitor, Helsinki University professor Johan Backman, said Western power do not fully understand the situation in Crimea.



    "Western politicians cannot understand what is going on. Because as far as I understand these countries and especially the U.S. have very weak informational base about what is going on in Russia first and secondly what is happening in Ukraine. And also western politicians of EU they do not really understand what happens in Russia. Western countries are at a dead end. In fact they cannot take any measures against Russia in this situation. And Russia is in control totally and securely."



    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Russian acceptance of a Crimean referendum to break off from Ukraine and join Russia would be an illegal "backdoor annexation."

    Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for six hours in London Friday in an effort to defuse the tensions in Crimea.

    If Sunday's vote passes and the Russian parliament ratifies it, Kerry said that would violate international law, and there will be consequences. He said this is not a threat against Russia but a matter of respecting international standards for annexation and independence.

    Lavrov said in a separate news conference that the talks with Kerry were useful, but the two have "no common vision" on Crimea. He said Russia will "respect the will of the Crimean people," and he criticized the threat of U.S. and European Union sanctions on Russia as "counterproductive."

    U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday he still hopes for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. But Kerry said it is clear Russian President Vladimir Putin will not make any moves until after Sunday's referendum.

    The Kremlin says Mr. Putin told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a phone call that the referendum is "fully consistent with international law and the U.N. Charter." However, the U.S. and European Union say the referendum violates Ukraine's constitution and international law.

    Moscow acknowledged Thursday that it is deploying thousands more troops and military hardware near the Ukrainian border for two weeks of military maneuvers.

    The U.S. State Department says it is "very concerned" about the deployment. The U.S. estimates that Russia already may have 20,000 troops in Crimea.

    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is traveling to Poland and Lithuania next week to meet with regional partners to discuss events in Ukraine. A White House statement says Biden will consult on steps to support Ukraine's sovereignty, and affirm international "collective defense commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty."

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.