World News

West Pushing Diplomatic Resolution to Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Western nations are pushing for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, with British Foreign Secretary William Hague saying the U.S. and Britain are pursuing "every diplomatic opportunity" to bring Russian and Ukrainian officials into contact with each other.

Russia did not join Hague and his U.S. and Ukrainian counterparts at a Wednesday morning meeting in Paris of the so-called Budapest agreement group. Under the Budapest Memorandum of the 1990s, the U.S., Britain and Russia agreed to support Ukraine's territorial integrity.

But Hague said further attempts would be made later in the day to bring the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers together.

If diplomatic progress cannot be made, Hague reiterated that there will be "costs and consequences" for Russia. He said Russia should take into account that a long term pattern of intervening like it has in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova will change its relationship with European nations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry later in the day in Paris, where they and other foreign ministers are attending a conference on Lebanon.

Western leaders have been calling for a de-escalation of tensions sparked when Russian forces moved into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula late last week. The West has suggested the crisis could be resolved if Russia pulls back its forces to their bases on the Black Sea peninsula and allows in international monitors.

But Lavrov said Wednesday that Russia cannot order pro-Russian armed forces in Crimea, which he described as "self defense" forces, back to bases, because they are not Russian forces. He said Russia's Black Sea fleet personnel are in their normal positions.

And he said allowing international monitors into Crimea is not Russia's decision, but the decision of Ukrainian and Crimean authorities.

Meanwhile, the head of the European Union's executive arm, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, said Wednesday the EU is ready to provide Ukraine $15 billion in aid in the coming years.



In Madrid Wednesday, Russia's Lavrov said the West set a "bad example" by supporting Ukrainian protesters that Russia has accused of an "unconstitutional" coup. Lavrov spoke alongside his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel García-Margallo.

NATO and Russia have agreed to meet Wednesday in Brussels for talks on the crisis in Ukraine -- their first public contact since the Crimea crisis began.

NATO said Tuesday the Russian military presence in Ukraine presents "serious implications for the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area."

Kerry was in Kyiv on Tuesday to meet with Ukrainian officials and said the United States wants to see a peaceful resolution to the crisis.



"It is diplomacy and respect for sovereignty, not unilateral force, that can best solve disputes like this in the 21st century. President Obama and I want to make it clear to Russia and to everybody in the world that we are not seeking confrontation. There's a better way for Russia to pursue its legitimate interests in Ukraine."



At a fundraiser Tuesday night, Mr. Obama said Russia is breaching international law and using troops to "try to force the hands of the Ukrainian people." He told reporters earlier in the day that the international community wants to make sure the rights of Ukrainians are upheld.



"I think everybody recognizes that although Russia has legitimate interests in what happens in a neighboring state, that does not give it the right to use force as a means of exerting influence inside of that state."



He called on Russia to open talks with the interim Ukrainian government, and to allow international monitors to determine whether ethnic Russians in Ukraine are under threat, as alleged by Moscow.

Mr. Obama's comments followed a news conference in Moscow by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian leader said he reserves the right to protect Russians in Ukraine. But he also insisted that gunmen blocking Ukrainian military units in the region are "local self-defense forces," not Russian soldiers.

President Obama countered that Moscow has no legal right to intervene militarily, while acknowledging that Mr. Putin "seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations."

The Obama administration also announced a $1 billion energy subsidy package for Ukraine, which is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

The Crimean peninsula was 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 residents of Crimea are ethnic Russians, but the region also is home to ethnic Muslim Tatars, who generally show disdain for Russia.

Ukrainian officials say Moscow has sent 16,000 troops into Crimea since last week.

Ukraine's troubles began in November, when president Viktor 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs