BBG Watch Commentary
Voice of America (VOA) English language news report from Paris on the Kerry-Lavrov meeting has John Kerry’s statement, “No decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine” in the ninth paragraph. BBC, Deutsche Welle, RFE/RL, and even Russia’s RT have this quote or a reference to it near the top of their news reports: in second or third paragraph. These other international media outlets appear to have done a better job explaining U.S. diplomacy and U.S. public diplomacy than VOA English News.
Kyiv’s Radio Ukraine International also highlighted in its English language online news Kerry’s statement that no decisions about Ukraine can be made without an agreement from the Ukrainian government. This was a consistent theme highlighted in nearly all media reports on the Kerry-Lavrov meeting in Paris, but receiving relatively little attention in Voice of America news reports.
UPDATE: Poorly-staffed VOA Ukrainian Service, which has not been given sufficient help by the management, was only able to post online a 131-word news item on the Kerry-Lavrov meeting in Paris. It did not have any substantive details from the meeting or any mention of Kerry’s “No decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine” statement. VOA Russian Service translated and posted the VOA English News report on the Kerry-Lavrov meeting.
LATEST UPDATE: In a tweet posted on March 31, the day after the Paris meeting, the U.S. State Department chose to emphasize Secretary Kerry statement that VOA placed way down in its report on Sunday.
As @JohnKerry said with FM Lavrov, U.S. guiding principle is clear, “No decisions about #Ukraine without Ukraine.” http://t.co/miCImKkRwu
— Department of State (@StateDept) April 1, 2014
Even though the Kerry-Lavrov meeting was announced well ahead of time, VOA management did not make proper arrangements to cover news in English, Ukrainian and Russian on the weekend.
Voice of America report in English was closer in tone and focus to an Al Jazeera report, which had Kerry’s statement “No decisions about Ukraine without the Ukraine” in the fifth paragraph, but even Al Jazeera had Kerry’s statement still higher than VOA. Vatican Radio, probably more skeptical of assurances from big powers with regard to smaller nations, mentioned Kerry’s statement in sixth paragraph, but still had it higher than VOA.
Kerry stressed in his tweets his prior consultations with the Ukrainian government before the Paris meeting, as well as his commitment to Ukraine’s independence — two highly significant points that were not reflected in the VOA report.
VOA report did not mention that before his meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov, John Kerry spoke with Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk — a point Kerry was clearly emphasizing in his tweet posted after his meeting with Lavrov. Kerry was also stressing that this was one of his many conversations with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk.
VOA report did not focus on any of these none too subtle points Secretary Kerry was trying to make. It appears that VOA included Kerry’s statement “No decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine” almost as an afterthought. That was, in out opinion, a major mistake on VOA’s part because John Kerry was obviously trying hard to make sure that the Paris meeting would not be compared to the 1938 Munich conference in which another country’s future was decided without its participation.
Other international media outlets, including Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) which is also funded by U.S. taxpayers, were more historically and journalistically perceptive and got the focus right.
After I spoke again w/ Ukraine’s PM Yatsenyuk, I met today w/ #FMLavrov in #Paris re #Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/i5g2WC8QHE
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) March 30, 2014
A second tweet from Kerry after his meeting with Lavrov also stressed his commitment to Ukraine’s independence.
Also met w/ @LaurentFabius earlier. Leaving Quai d’Orsay saw powerful #UnitedForUkraine showing along street: https://t.co/BOOCmlh7dL
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) March 30, 2014
Even Russia’s RT report pointed out in the third paragraph that both Kerry and Lavrov “agreed that the Ukrainian people should take the leading role in deciding their own future.” RT reported Lavrov as stressing that “neither Russia nor the United States can impose any plans on Ukraine, drafted unilaterally without the Ukrainian side.” Lavrov was making this statement, even though it is clearly contradicted by the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea and massing of troops on the border, also for public diplomacy reasons. Of course, Lavrov was no doubt thinking about the participation of supporters of former president Victor Yanukovych.
Kerry’s statement appeared to be more than a meaningless public diplomacy gesture as far as the current government in Kyiv is concerned and sounded quite genuine in that respect. VOA was the only one among major international media outlets reporting on the story to have downplayed Kerry’s statement.
Mon, Mar 31, 2014
Source: BBC World News (UK)
BBC: US Secretary of State John Kerry has announced no breakthrough on Ukraine, following four hours of “frank” talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Mr Kerry said he told Mr Lavrov that the US still considered Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region to be “illegal and illegitimate”.
He said he had stressed that no decision on Ukraine’s future could be made without Kiev’s involvement.
Earlier Mr Lavrov set out demands for a neutral and federal Ukraine.
Mr Kerry told a news conference in Paris: “We will not accept a path forward where the legitimate government of Ukraine is not at the table.
“This principle is clear: no decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine.”
Read more in the BBC report: US-Russia deadlock on Ukraine crisis
Mon, Mar 31, 2014
Source: DW (Germany)
DW: The US and Russia have failed to agree on a plan to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, with Washington urging Moscow to pull back its troops. Russia has suggested its smaller neighbor adopt a less unified federal system.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Ukraine itself would have to be involved in any decision to resolve the crisis.
“We will not accept a path forward where the legitimate government of Ukraine is not at the table,” he told reporters after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Paris. “The principle is clear. No decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine.”
Read more in the DW report: US urges Moscow to pull back, Russia calls for ‘looser’ federal Ukraine
Mon, Mar 31, 2014
Source: RFE/RL (USA)
RFE/RL: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has held four hours of what he described as frank talks in Paris with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the crisis in Ukraine.
Kerry said he and Lavrov agreed diplomacy is the best way to defuse the Ukraine crisis.
Kerry said there will be no decisions on Ukraine without the Ukrainians.
“The United States is consulting with Ukraine at every step of this process and we will not accept a path forward where the legitimate government of Ukraine is not at the table. This principle is clear: no decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine,” Kerry told reporters after the talks on March 30.
Read more in the RFE/RL report: Kerry, Lavrov Hold ‘Frank’ Talks On Ukraine
Russia presses call for federal Ukraine – Al Jazeera
Mon, Mar 31, 2014
Source: Al Jazeera News (Middle East)
Al Jazeera: Four hours of US-Russia talks have failed to find a breakthrough on the crisis in Ukraine, with the US demanding Russian troop withdrawals and Russia calling for a federal Ukraine.
The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and his US counterpart, John Kerry, said talks late on Sunday were constructive but there was no new deal or agreement on the future of the region.
Lavrov said he pressed Russia’s call for a federal Ukraine of regions free to choose their own economic model, language and religion, and said Kerry had agreed to work with the Ukrainian government to improve rights for Russian-speaking Ukrainians and disarming “irregular forces and provocateurs”.
Kerry said he agreed to work with the Ukraine government on those issues, but called for the removal of “illegal and illegitimate” Russian troops in Crimea, which he said were responsible for creating a climate of intimidation in mainland Ukraine.
“Any real progress … must include a pullback of the very large Russian force currently massing along Ukraine’s borders,” he said, adding that the US would “not accept a path forward where the legitimate government of Ukraine is not at the table.”
Read more in the Al Jazeera report: Russia presses call for federal Ukraine
Kerry: Moscow must pull its troops away from Ukrainian borders – Radio Ukraine International
Mon, Mar 31, 2014
Source: RUI (Ukraine)
This was stressed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris. A decision on Ukraine’s federalization suggested by the Russian Federation is up to the Ukrainian authorities to make, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.
The United States won’t support the settlement process unless the lawful Ukrainian government is present at the negotiations, Kerry said.The secretary of state said the United States and Russia agreed on the need for diplomatic ways to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.
Read the original Radio Ukraine International report: Kerry: Moscow must pull its troops away from Ukrainian borders
Sun, Mar 30, 2014
Source: RT News (Russia)
RT: Although expressing different points of view on the roots of Ukraine crisis, Russia and the US have agreed to seek common ground to deescalate tensions and implement necessary reforms, having in mind that Ukrainians themselves should decide their future
“We have conducted intensive negotiations in the first place, on the crisis in Ukraine,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after four hours of negotiations with his US Secretary of State John Kerry .“We expressed dissenting views on its causes, but agreed to seek common ground to resolve the situation in Ukraine.”
The diplomats shared with each other their suggestions on how to deescalate the situation, but both agreed that the Ukrainian people should take the leading role in deciding their own future.
Read more in the RT report: Lavrov, Kerry discussed Ukraine constitutional reform, fair elections
VOICE OF AMERICA
Kerry: Russian Troops Near Ukraine Create ‘Climate of Fear’ – Voice of America
March 30, 2014
PARIS — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on Russia to pull back thousands of troops along the Ukraine border, saying those forces are creating a “climate of fear” that does not support diplomatic dialogue. Secretary Kerry met late Sunday in Paris with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Despite different views of events that led to this crisis, Kerry said the United States and Russia agree on the importance of finding a diplomatic solution, and that both made suggestions about how to de-escalate the security and political situation.
“We also agreed to work with the Ukrainian government and the people to implement the steps that they are taking to ensure the following priorities: the rights of national minorities, language rights, demobilization and disarmament of irregular forces and provocateurs, an inclusive constitutional reform process and free and fair elections monitored by the international community,” said Kerry.
But Kerry added that any real progress must include a pullback of 40,000 Russian troops massing along Ukraine’s borders.
“We believe that these forces are creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine. It certainly does not create the climate that we need for the dialogue,” said Kerry.
Following four hours of talks, Lavrov held a separate Paris news conference and read from a nearly identical statement on their agreed priorities. But instead of Russian troops, he focused on decentralizing power to protect minorities — concerns that Moscow has used to justify annexing the Crimean peninsula.
Within this framework, Lavrov said, all regions and political forces will have an equal voice to agree on which kind of political, economic, financial, social and religious traditions will be respected in different parts of the country.
Kerry said the United States still considers Russian actions in Crimea “illegal and illegitimate,” and rejects any attempt to outline new federal structures without including provisional authorities in Kyiv.
“We will not accept a path forward where the legitimate government of Ukraine is not at the table. This principle is clear: No decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine,” said Kerry.
U.S. officials said they saw in these talks some increased acknowledgement from Russia that Ukraine is meeting some of its concerns about minority rights in Russian-speaking areas. That may be a way for the Kremlin to justify pulling back some of its troops.
Washington now believes Moscow is using those troops not only to intimidate Ukrainians but also as a bargaining chip with Europe and the United States in the most serious East-West standoff since the end of the Cold War.
Western leaders are considering broader sanctions against Russia that could target its oil and gas industry. Obama administration officials have said it is clear those sanctions are biting, and equally clear that Russia does not want more of them.
In an interview on state television, Lavrov dismissed the Western visa bans and asset freezes on allies of President Vladimir Putin.
“I don’t want to say they are laughable,” Lavrov said. “I don’t want to say that we don’t care. They are unpleasant. But the fact they try to take those sanctions on a more personal level and present them as directed at certain people personally is clearly a desire to take revenge.”
Following these talks, Kerry looks to keep the pressure on Russia at this week’s meeting of NATO foreign ministers, with President Obama calling on the trans-Atlantic alliance to station more troops in countries “that may feel vulnerable.”