BBG Watch Commentary

At the U.S. taxpayers’ funded Voice of America (VOA), international audiences can get either news in English and in most of VOA’s other languages about Secretary of State John Kerry’s statements on Ukraine or news about Justin Bierber. They can’t get both and Justin Bieber wins!

Justin Bieber in Court

Important U.S. foreign policy statements on Ukraine are not being reported on the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) English news website and websites of most of VOA’s more than 40 language services. Recent statements on Ukranie by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and U.S. Senators McCain, Murphy, Johnson and Shaheen have been ignored by VOA English news and nearly all other VOA services except the hard-working Ukrainian Service and perhaps one or two others.

While VOA English news ignored Secretary Kerry’s major announcement yesterday at the World Economic Forum that U.S. diplomats in Kyiv are engaged in talks with Ukraine’s President Yanukovych on resolving the crisis and putting an end to violence, Russia’s media outlet RT reported the news in English, as did Deutsche Welle and other international and U.S. media. Some have focused on Kerry’s remark “We will stand with the people of Ukraine.”

VOA English news website is only reporting in English that “the United States is urging the Ukrainian government to find a peaceful end to the crisis.” This has been the extent of VOA English news reporting in the last two days on U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine despite escalating crisis, a major statement from Secretary of State John Kerry and bipartisan statements by U.S. Senators. Meanwhile, the VOA English news website is showing four recent news reports, some with video, on Justin Bieber.

Read: “Voice of America gives world news on Justin Bieber, omits Kerry’s statement on Ukraine,” BBG Watch, January 25, 2014.


Remarks on Ukraine by Secretary of State John Kerry at the World Economic Forum

Office of the Spokesperson

January 24, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry
At the World Economic Forum
January 24, 2014
Davos, Switzerland



SECRETARY KERRY: Far from disengaging, America is proud to be more engaged than ever, and, I believe, is playing as critical a role, perhaps as critical as ever, in pursuit of peace, prosperity, and stability in various parts of the world.

Right here in Europe, we are working with our partners to press the Government of Ukraine to forgo violence, to address the concerns of peaceful protesters, to foster dialogue, promote the freedom of assembly and expression. And I literally just received messages before walking in here of the efforts of our diplomats on the ground working with President Yanukovych to try to achieve calm and help move in this direction in the next days. We will stand with the people of Ukraine.

We’re also making progress towards finalizing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would link the world’s largest market, the EU, with the world’s single largest economy, the United States, raising standards and creating jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.


Chairman Menendez Statement On Latest Developments In Ukraine

January 24, 2014

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding the latest developments in Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Chairman Menendez held a hearing on the crisis in Ukraine, and convened a roundtable discussion in New Jersey with Ukrainian leaders.

“The deteriorating situation in Ukraine is growing more worrisome by the day. By abandoning fundamental principles of democratic rule and rejecting through violent means the rights of assembly, speech and protest, President Yanukovych has undermined his authority and threatened the political and economic stability of the Ukrainian state. Ukrainian citizens from across the political spectrum are peacefully standing up and demanding that their voices be heard. President Yanukovych must bring an end to this violence, convene parliament and repeal repressive legislation restricting fundamental political rights, and constructively engage the political opposition. The world is watching and a peaceful resolution remains the only allowable outcome.”

U.S. Senators McCain, Murphy, Johnson and Shaheen on Ukraine

January 23, 2014

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today released the following statement regarding developments in Ukraine:

“We welcome reports of today’s truce between the government and opposition in Ukraine and hope that the Ukrainian government will use this opportunity wisely. The people of Ukraine have made it clear that they will not tolerate the government’s assault on their fundamental human rights, and we urge the government to take concrete steps to address the legitimate demands of its people and meet democratic standards.

“We strongly condemn the Ukrainian government’s aggressive crackdown on journalists and protesters and its violent attempts to suppress demonstrations. While we regret that some protesters have resorted to violent measures that are inconsistent with the peaceful character of the Euro-Maidan movement, the responsibility for the growin g political crisis in Ukraine lies squarely with the government’s heavy-handed tactics and undemocratic actions. The unfortunate reality is that the Ukrainian government has consistently failed to engage in meaningful dialogue with the opposition, and its attempt to forcibly end the protests through the passage of anti-democratic legislation and a deepening crackdown is only escalating the crisis.

“We commend the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine for its decision to revoke the visas of several Ukrainian officials responsible for past acts of violence against peaceful demonstrators. However, now more than ever, the deteriorating situation in Ukraine calls for stronger leadership at the highest levels in the United States and Europe. As the Ukrainian government shows an increasing disregard for the rights of its citizens, and as its tactics against peaceful protesters become more brutal, we believe additional measures are now necessary to hold Ukrainian officials accountab le, ensure that basic human rights are protected, and clarify the choice for those with power and influence in Ukraine about what future they seek for their country.”

Ukraine in the State Department Daily Press Brief

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
January 24, 2014

Briefrer: Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson

Excerpt on Ukraine


QUESTION: Yeah. Can we move to Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So the situation on the ground is not getting better. The talks between the opposition and the president have failed. Apparently, the regime has lost control of parts of west of the country. So do you see any way to get out of the crisis? And on the diplomatic front, France and Germany have summoned the Ukrainian ambassadors. Is there any plan from the U.S. side to do the same or to send a U.S. official to Kyiv?

MS. HARF: Well, we have said all along that a peaceful resolution of the crisis is key to satisfying the aspirations of the Ukrainian people. We were encouraged by reports that President Yanukovych is meeting with the three main opposition leaders. We do fully support substantive discussions and we have said that we urge the Government of Ukraine to seize the opportunity that these talks represent and to move quickly to take the first steps towards national reconciliation. This is obviously a tough situation, but the government does have a chance to do – to take positive steps, I would say, and to continue in these discussions.

Obviously, we’re monitoring it. I don’t have anything new to update you in terms of U.S. official engagement. We have been quite engaged at the local level with Ukrainian officials, and I can check and see in terms of if we have anyone from here who’s been particularly engaged.

In terms of – you asked about some of the government buildings in the western part. We can confirm that protestors have occupied some regional administration buildings, and of course, would reiterate our call for all protestors and government forces to refrain from violence and the destruction of property on both sides.