Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

International correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin and covers Central Europe for NPR. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

She was previously based in Cairo and covered the Arab World for NPR from the Middle East to North Africa. Nelson returns to Egypt on occasion to cover the tumultuous transition to democracy there.

In 2006, Nelson opened the NPR Kabul Bureau. During the following three and a half years, she gave listeners in an in-depth sense of life inside Afghanistan, from the increase in suicide among women in a country that treats them as second class citizens to the growing interference of Iran and Pakistan in Afghan affairs. For her coverage of Afghanistan, she won a Peabody Award, Overseas Press Club Award and the Gracie in 2010. She received the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award from Colby College in 2011 for her coverage in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Nelson spent 20 years as newspaper reporter, including as Knight Ridder's Middle East Bureau Chief. While at the Los Angeles Times, she was sent on extended assignment to Iran and Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She spent three years an editor and reporter for Newsday and was part of the team that won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for covering the crash of TWA Flight 800.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, Nelson speaks Farsi, Dari and German.

Tensions remain high in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine. Violence has led to the worst death toll since February, including more than 30 pro-Russian separatists who died in a building fire.

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And I'm Melissa Block. Ukraine's interim president says his military forces have lost control of the eastern part of the country. That declaration today came after masked separatists captured government offices in a key provincial capital. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is in the city of Donetsk in the east where separatists also wield control.

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And I'm Robert Siegel. The U.S. and the European Union hit Russia with more sanctions today on both individuals and companies for refusing to deescalate tensions in Ukraine. In a moment, we'll hear more details about those sanctions from NPR's Scott Horsley, but first to eastern Ukraine where the new penalties did little to curb violence.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. The government in Kiev accused the Kremlin today of trying to start another world war. This comes as a team of unarmed military observers in Ukraine is said to have been detained by pro-Moscow militants. The group is made up of representatives from several European countries. They've been monitoring growing tensions in eastern Ukraine.

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In Russia, President Vladimir Putin is enjoying unprecedented public support for his recent annexation of Crimea. His pledge to protect Russian, speaking citizens elsewhere in Ukraine, by military force if necessary, is also wildly popular. Putin is banking on that support as he moves to quash another perceived threat: His political opponents at home.

NPR Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson went to Moscow for that story.

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A deal now that could possibly ease the tensions in eastern Ukraine. The U.S., Europe, Russia and Ukraine came to an agreement that calls on multinational monitors to oversee steps to restore order. The deal would likely delay any new sanctions against Russia. President Obama has already cast doubt on whether the Russian's will cooperate. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has more.

Secretary of State John Kerry is in Geneva to meet with his diplomatic counterparts from Russia, Ukraine and the European Union. They are trying to find a resolution to the crisis in Ukraine.

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U.S.-Russia relations have deteriorated since Russia's annexation of Crimea and there are still questions over Russian President Vladimir Putin's agenda in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Targeted sanctions, political isolation and NATO's plans to beef up its presence in Eastern Europe haven't persuaded Putin to change course.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has more from Moscow.

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.

The deployment of tens of thousands of Russian troops along their country's western border with Ukraine worries the new government in Kiev and its Western allies, including President Obama.

In a phone call Friday, he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull those forces back, a demand likely to be repeated by Secretary of State John Kerry when he meets with his Russian counterpart in Paris Sunday.

But people in the Russian border city of Belgorod, one of the places where troops have been gathering, say they can't understand why the U.S. is making such a fuss.

It's hard to keep up with the vast array of colored ribbons that convey causes around the world, especially when the same color has multiple meanings. Red ones, for example, represent AIDS awareness but also drunk driving prevention, among other things.

Last week, deputies in the Russian parliament, or Duma, adopted their own ribbon to signal approval for Russia's takeover of Crimea – ones with black and orange stripes.

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Russian markets and businesses are reeling from Western threats and sanctions - they're a response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's stance toward Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. But ordinary Russians are closing ranks behind their president. And many Russians tell NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, the U.S. should expect even more pushback against the West.

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And as Eleanor just told Renee, the government in Kiev says the world is with them, and not with Russia.

Let's bring in NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson into this conversation. She's in Berlin. She's been monitoring the European reaction to the vote in Crimea.

And, Soraya, as we mentioned, the EU, like the United States, threatening sanctions against Russia. EU foreign ministers are actually meeting today to draw some up and take a vote. What exactly are these sanctions?

It seems hardly a sentence is spoken in Berlin that doesn't have an American English word in it.

One word that especially grates — and I confess to a certain bias, having learned German as a toddler when it wasn't so Americanized — is a word pronounced "sogh-ee." Or, as Americans say it, "sorry."

"Sogh-ee" your package is late.

"Sogh-ee" your hot water is off.

"Sogh-ee" we can't help you.

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The chancellor of Germany is warning Russia to step back from its confrontation with the West over Ukraine.

CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL: (Foreign language spoken)

When he fled Kiev, Viktor Yanukovych left behind an opulent mansion that underscores the problems many Ukrainians say plague their country: widespread government corruption and a huge income gap.

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An uneasy calm settled over Kiev today since opposition leaders signed a peace deal with Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovych. But after three days of fighting left scores of people dead, protesters are still trying to decide if the deal is worth the sacrifice. Despite their demands, Yanukovych remains in place, although there will be early elections.

The office of president Viktor Yanukovich says a deal has been reached with opposition leaders to stop the violence in the capital Kiev. Scores of people have died in two days of clashes.

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In Ukraine, protesters and police clash today in the worst violence yet during the three-month old uprising against President Viktor Yanukovych. A flurry of diplomatic visits to Kiev and the EU's threat of sanctions have failed to slow the carnage. At least 100 people are reported dead after two days of fighting. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is in Kiev covering the crisis.

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A truce announced late last night between protestors and the government in Kiev, Ukraine broke down this morning.

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Police in Kiev continue to try to clear protesters from the streets of the Ukrainian capital, where violence has left both police and demonstrators dead.

There was a U.S. diplomatic gaff last week. It involved an expletive used by an assistant secretary of State to express a rather rude form of anger at the European Union during a private phone conversation. The phone call was intercepted by someone — presumably another government — and leaked.

The next round of Iranian nuclear talks with world powers is fast approaching, and there's still a lot of skepticism in the air over the prospects for a comprehensive deal.

Iran will sit down with the U.S. and five other major powers in Vienna on Feb. 18 as they try to hammer out a long-term agreement on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. By most every estimate, it won't be easy to build on the success of a temporary deal drawn up last November given the lingering, visceral mistrust between the United States and Iran.

Many of the world's top diplomats met over the weekend along with defense officials for an annual security conference in Munich, Germany. Top of the agenda were two countries in particular: Ukraine and Iran.

Many Germans were surprised in December when Ursula von der Leyen was named the country's first female defense minister.

Some people questioned whether a medical doctor with seven children, who championed Germany's generous parental leave policy, was the right choice to shepherd the country's military through the challenges of being a newly minted volunteer force.

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Now to a debate in Europe over something called poverty migration. Recently, some countries in the European Union lifted work restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians. As a result, factions in Britain and Germany worry that poor and unskilled immigrants will flood in and collect welfare payments.

But Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, this debate isn't being driven by new arrivals from Romania and Bulgaria. Instead, she says, it may involve prejudice against one particular group, the long-oppressed Roma.

"The Handwriting of a Mass Murderer" is how Germany's Die Welt newspaper bills its eight-part series featuring excerpts of Heinrich Himmler's personal letters accompanied by family photos, which are reportedly being published for the first time.

(An English-language version is here.)

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