World News

U.S. Calls for Diplomatic Resolution of Ukraine Conflict

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called for a diplomatic resolution of the crisis in Ukraine, criticizing Russia for its involvement in the nation divided by ethnic and economic loyalties.

Kerry spoke Tuesday in Kyiv after meeting with Ukraine's top officials and visiting the site of a memorial to protesters killed in clashes with security forces before the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.

While praising Ukrainians for demonstrating peacefully for freedom, Kerry said the former Ukrainian government "chose intimidation as a first resort." He also condemned Russia for backing the former government and said Moscow would have people believe that the interim government now in power in Kyiv is illegitimate.

Kerry said Western powers are not seeking confrontation, and he implored Russia to take its concerns to international agencies such as the United Nations. He said if Russia does not choose to de-escalate the situation through diplomatic means, the U.S. and its partners will have no choice but to isolate Russia politically and economically.

Earlier Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country is prepared to use all options to protect Russians in Ukraine. He added that he hopes Russia will not have to use force.

In his first public comments since ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kyiv, Mr. Putin called Ukraine's political power shift an "anti-constitutional coup and armed seizure of power," and said Mr. Yanukovych is still Ukraine's "legitimate" leader, though he had no chances of being re-elected.

President Putin's comments Tuesday come amid a growing crisis over Russia's military presence in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. The United States and its European allies are considering sanctions against Russia for its troop movements into Ukraine.

Mr. Putin has ordered tens of thousands of troops taking part in military exercises in western Russia, near the Ukrainian border, to return to base. The exercises were scheduled to end, so it is unclear whether the move was intended to help ease tensions.

Moscow has denied that the exercises, started last week, were related to the situation in Ukraine.

On Monday night, U.S. President Barack Obama met with Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other members of his national security team at the White House to discuss policy options.

Earlier Monday, President Obama called on Congress to approve an aid package. While Kerry visits Ukraine, the White House has announced a $1 billion aid package to Ukraine aimed at lessening the impact of proposed cuts to energy subsidies on Ukrainian citizens.

In tandem with the diplomatic push, the U.S. Defense Department said Monday it is suspending military-to-military contacts with Russia. Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said the move is aimed at prodding Moscow to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, and said the suspension covers maneuvers, bilateral meetings, port visits and conference planning.

European Union foreign ministers have issued a Thursday deadline for Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull back his troops or face punitive measures.

Russia, meanwhile, is calling on Ukraine to return to a February 21 agreement between ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition that involved forming a national unity government.

But State Department spokeswoman Psaki said Monday that while the agreement could be used as a "basis," the dramatic change in circumstances since then means it is not usable as it is.

President Obama accused Russia Monday of violating international law with its actions in Ukraine. He said the country is "on the wrong side of history."

Russia says its military movements in Ukraine are to protect its citizens there. But the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council Monday that Russia's intervention is an "act of aggression," and not the humanitarian mission it is seeking to portray.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke Monday by telephone with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The White House said Biden urged Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, support the immediate deployment of international monitors and begin a "meaningful political dialogue" with the Ukrainian government.

Crimea is a Black Sea peninsula placed under Ukrainian control in 1954 by then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It remained part of Ukraine when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Crimea has a tiny border with Russia on its far eastern point, and the Crimean port of Sevastapol is home to Russia's Black Sea fleet. Most of the people living in Crimea are ethnic Russians, but the region also is home to ethnic Muslim Tatars, who generally show disdain for Russia.

Ukraine's troubles began in November, when President Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties and economic aid from Russia. The move triggered weeks of pro-Western anti-government demonstrations in Kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine, and forced the pro-Russian Yanukovych to flee the capital in late February.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs