President Barack Obama said one American was killed on a downed plane in Ukraine on Thursday, and that the airliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists. He called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, where he said heavily armed and trained separatists receive Russian support.
Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 10:25 am
This post updated at 10:15 a.m. ET.
A Ukrainian government spokesman says one of its warplanes was shot down in the country's east by a Russian air force jet, as the U.S. and Europe stepped up sanctions on Moscow over its support of separatist rebels.
Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 12:46 pm
The area of Russia is said to be called, ominously enough, the end of the world. And that's where researchers are headed this week, to investigate a large crater whose appearance reportedly caught scientists by surprise. The crater is estimated at 262 feet wide and is in the northern Siberian area of Yamal.
An exchange of mortar fire has been reported in eastern Ukraine, where government troops and pro-Russian separatist forces had been observing an uneasy cease-fire in the past week. The news comes as Secretary of State John Kerry says Russia could face sanctions if it doesn't help end the violence.
Russian state news media are reporting explosions near the airport in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, where the armed groups reportedly absorbed and returned mortar fire. Similar clashes were reported earlier this week.
Militants in Ukraine shot down a military helicopter near the eastern city of Slovyansk Wednesday, killing 14 soldiers that included an Army general. The incident comes days after Ukraine stepped up its operations against pro-Russian rebels this week.
From Kiev, NPR's Peter Kenyon reports for our Newscast unit:
Pro-Russian rebels who had taken over an international airport in Donetsk have been pushed back, Ukraine's government says. Violent clashes erupted Monday and Tuesday; at least 35 people have died.
From Kiev, NPR's Peter Kenyon reports for our Newscast unit:
"The battle for Donetsk airport appears to symbolize the government's tougher stance on the pro-Russian insurgents in the east. Using fighter jets and helicopter gunships, the military says it has retaken control of the airport, though rebels dispute that claim.
Pro-Russian separatists attacked a military checkpoint in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing at least 13 soldiers and wounding about 30, according to Ukraine's acting prime minister. The country is preparing to hold national elections on Sunday.
A separatist commander told The Associated Press that one of his men also died.
The attack took place near the village of Blahodatne in Donetsk, one of two main areas in eastern Ukraine where separatists say they want to break away from the country and its interim government.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin started vilifying the U.S., and state-controlled media took his cue, Michael McFaul was portrayed as one of the American villains. McFaul was the American ambassador to Russia from January 2012 to February of this year. He planned to leave just after the Sochi Olympics, which ended up coinciding with the Ukrainian Parliament voting to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from office, leading to Russia's annexation of Crimea.
A referendum on independence from Ukraine shows strong support for secession, according to separatist leaders in the districts where Sunday's vote was held. Kiev and Western governments say the vote is illegitimate.
Russia, which has been accused of orchestrating the unrest in eastern Ukraine, says it "respects the expression of will of the population of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions." But the Kremlin's statement also called for dialogue with Kiev, not violence.
It's a day for patriots in Russia, where the country is celebrating Victory Day to commemorate the World War II defeat of Nazi Germany. A parade of troops, tanks and missile launchers made its way through Red Square to mark the occasion.
"It is a holiday when an overwhelming force of patriotism triumphs, when all of us feel particularly acutely what it means to be loyal to the motherland and how important it is to defend its interests," President Vladimir Putin said.
Urging the release of separatists detained during Friday's unrest that left dozens dead, more than 100 pro-Russia activists surrounded a police station in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa Sunday.
Update at 4:30 p.m. ET: More Activists Released
Police in Odessa say 67 pro-Russia activists were freed Sunday.
CNN quotes the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's website:
The Ukrainian government is describing its offensive against pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country as an "anti-terrorist operation," language that offends the separatists and Russia.
In turn, Russia is using even stronger language, saying that the Ukrainian military has launched a "punitive operation." While that may not carry any special meaning to Western ears, it has far more sinister implications for Russians.
Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 5:09 pm
Update at 9 a.m. ET:
The White House announced sanctions Monday against seven top Russian officials with links to President Vladimir Putin, including freezing their assets and banning them from obtaining U.S. visas. It also threatened to impose more economic sanctions on key sectors of Russia's economy if there is evidence of further Kremlin involvement in the unrest in eastern Ukraine.
Originally published on Sun April 20, 2014 5:04 pm
A shootout at a checkpoint killed at least two people in eastern Ukraine Sunday, according to multiple reports. The violence comes on the heels of an agreement between Ukraine, Russia and the West that calls for armed groups to disband; that pact led officials to announce a truce for this Easter weekend.
Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 9:04 am
This post was updated with a new top at 4:10 p.m. ET.
Diplomats from the U.S., Ukraine, Russia and the European Union emerged Thursday from a meeting that wasn't expected to accomplish much saying they had made progress toward resolving the crisis in Ukraine.
"We worked hard and we worked in good faith in order to narrow our real differences," Secretary of State John Kerry said following the meeting in Geneva. He and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that the four parties at the negotiating table agreed:
Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 2:26 pm
On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from Donetsk, Ukraine
Ukraine's acting president says his nation's military has begun "an anti-terrorist operation" aimed at pushing armed pro-Russia demonstrators out of the government buildings in eastern Ukraine that they have occupied for several days.
Originally published on Sun April 13, 2014 12:13 pm
Rep. Mike Rogers Discusses U.S.-Russia Relations On 'Weekend Edition'
A Ukrainian Security Service officer has been killed and five others wounded in the eastern city of Slovyansk, officials from Ukraine's interim government said Sunday. The casualty comes after Ukraine pledged a "very tough" response to those occupying government buildings.
President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea is reigniting talk in Russia of taking back Alaska from the United States, which purchased the territory from a czar for $7.2 million nearly a century and a half ago.
Most of the talk is tongue-in-cheek, but it comes at a time of heightened sensitivity in the West over whether Russia is planning further incursions or land grabs.
Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 2:27 pm
(This post was updated at 11:30 a.m. ET.)
President Obama on Tuesday said that he believed that Russia was "still making a series of calculations" regarding any further moves after its annexation of Crimea, but that there was no expectation of dislodging it by force from the Black Sea peninsula.
"What we can bring to bear are the legal arguments, the diplomatic arguments," he said at a joint news conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte following a nuclear security summit in The Hague.
With the situation in Ukraine as bad as it is, semantics are not high on the list of priorities. But it's something that inevitably comes up for journalists when we discuss names and locations in other parts of the world.
Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 1:12 pm
Ukraine announced the pullout of its troops from Crimea after Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula and took control of the military bases there. The decision comes as President Obama arrived in the Netherlands on Monday for a summit of the G-7 group of industrialized nations that is certain to focus on discussion of the international crisis.
Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov said Monday that the Defense Ministry has been ordered to redeploy Ukrainian servicemen from the Crimea to Ukraine's mainland, in remarks confirmed by his office.
President Barack Obama expanded economic sanctions against Russia in response to its actions in Ukraine, with further sanctions on top officials of the Russian government.
"In addition, we are today sanctioning a number of other individuals with substantial resources and influence who provide material support to the Russian leadership, as well as a bank that provides material support to these individuals," said Obama in a statement on the south lawn of the White House.