After days of intensifying violence in eastern Ukraine, the United States, the European Union, Russia and Ukraine reached a tentative agreement designed to lower tensions in the eastern European country.
On Thursday, following a lightning round of talks in Geneva, the Western powers agreed to hold off on new economic sanctions against Russia as a part of a deal that calls for the disarming of illicitly armed groups and the evacuation of buildings taken by pro-Russian mobs. Washington has accused Russian intelligence operatives and special forces of aiding and arming the mobs, a charge Moscow denies.
The deal requires all sides to avoid provocations and cease any violent behavior. It tasks monitors with the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe with helping Ukraine and local authorities implement the agreement. Looking to Ukraine’s future, it also says Kiev intends to transfer more power to regional authorities, a key demand of both Moscow and the protest leaders in eastern Ukraine. The agreement doesn’t require Russia to withdraw any of the 80,000 troops it has massed along the Ukrainian border, which have sparked fears of a potential Russian invasion.
In a joint news conference with E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Secretary of State John Kerry called the agreement a "good day’s work," but stressed that Russia must do its part in de-escalating the crisis. Specifically, Kerry noted Moscow’s outsized influence over the pro-Russian mobs destabilizing eastern Ukraine. "It is important that these words are translated immediately into actions," he said. He warned that if Moscow doesn’t comply with the agreement in the next few days "we will have no choice but to impose further costs on Russia."
At a separate news conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the crisis is for Ukrainians to settle for themselves with long-term constitutional reform, but noted that the OSCE mission "should play a lead role" going forward. Those remarks came after Russian President Vladimir Putin chided the West’s interference in Ukraine and expressed hope that he wouldn’t have to send troops into the country. Lavrov emphasized that Russian-speaking Ukrainians must be protected from discriminatory acts.
Meanwhile, the agreement also provided an incentive for the pro-Russian mobs who have seized government buildings and battled security forces throughout eastern Ukraine to give up their arms. At least four people have died in the ongoing unrest. "Amnesty will be granted to protesters and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes," the statement said.
FP’s Situation Report: Hagel to make NATO pitch; The deal is doomed, Moscow says; Picking a Marine Commandant; Swiss cheese at the Pentagon; Is Mary Legere’s support for Army intel system a liability?; Life on a sub, revealed; and a bit more.Gordon Lubold
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |