Russia, West reach agreement on easing Ukraine tensions

Written by on April 17, 2014 in World - Comments Off on Russia, West reach agreement on easing Ukraine tensions

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says top diplomats from Ukraine, Russia, the European Union, and United States have agreed on a set of measures to ease the conflict in Ukraine.

Kerry spoke Thursday in Geneva after hours of talks among the four parties.

He said some of the measures agreed to include disarmament of all illegally armed groups and amnesty for all protesters who peacefully vacate occupied buildings, aside from those found guilty of capital offenses.

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who already are in Ukraine, will be engaged in putting the de-escalation measures into place.

Kerry warned, however, that so far these plans are just “words on paper” and success will depend on how they are carried out.

At a White House press briefing later, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed caution.President Obama said he hopes Russia lives up to Ukraine agreement but he added that past practice makes it unlikely.”I don’t think we can be sure of anything at this point,” he said. “I think there is the possibility, the prospect, that the diplomacy may de-escalate the situation.”

President Obama left open the possibility of more sanctions if diplomacy fails.

“We have put in place additional consequences that we can impose on the Russians if we do not see actual improvement of the situation,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the four parties will work to establish a broad national dialogue to ensure protection of Ukrainians’ rights.

Kerry met separately with Lavrov, Ukraine’s foreign minister Andrii Deshchytsia, and the European Union’s Catherine Ashton before the group meeting started.

Kerry and Ukrainian foreign minister Deshchytsia

Kerry and Ukrainian foreign minister Deshchytsia

Secretary Kerry Greets EU High Representative Ashton Before Ukraine Talks in Geneva

Moscow has said it has the right to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine. It accuses the new Ukrainian leadership of being anti-Russian and anti-Semitic and of threatening the rights of pro-Russians.But senior U.N. human rights official Ivan Simonvic told the Security Council Wednesday that during two trips to Ukraine in March, his team found no widespread attacks against ethnic-Russians.Moscow calls the U.N. report biased and unfounded.The tentative agreement could put on hold economic sanctions the West had prepared to impose on Russia if the talks were fruitlessAnd that would ease international pressure both on Moscow and nervous European Union nations that depend on Russia for their energy.

Kerry said “there was no discussion” of the removal of immediate sanctions.

‘Chilling’ reports

Ukrainian and Israeli media are reporting that Jews in the eastern city of Donetsk — where pro-Russian militants have taken control of government buildings — were ordered to “register” with those who are trying to force the city to become part of Russia.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoff Pyatt is confirming that “chilling” anti-semitic leaflets in Donetsk appear to be “the real deal.”

Kerry also mentioned the reported anti-Jewish incident in eastern Ukraine, and a threat to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Kerry condemned the move. “In the year 2014, after all of the miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it’s grotesque. It is beyond unacceptable,” he told reporters.

Source: VOANews.com
(Photos: US State Department via flickr.com)

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