Diplomats from the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union announced a preliminary deal on Thursday that would provide a path to de-escalation in the Ukrainian crisis.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry outlined the terms of the deal during a press conference in Geneva. All parties agreed that all sides refrain from violence. All illegal groups must be disarmed. All illegally seized buildings in eastern Ukraine must be returned to their legitimate orders. All illegally occupied streets and squares must be vacated.
The deal also calls for amnesty to all protesters who have left their public places and surrendered their weapons, providing they are not accused of crimes.
“None of us leave here with a sense that the job is done because these words are on the paper,” Kerry said. “If we’re not able to see immediate progress, we’ll have no other choice than impose further costs on Russia.”
Kerry stressed the agreement is preliminary. He said he doesn’t see it as a full de-escalation agreement. Both sides had interest in getting a preliminary deal. For the West, it served as a positive step toward de-escalation. For Russia, it buys time from further Western sanctions on the appearance they are cooperating.
The announcement of the deal came on the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin ramped up his rhetoric, saying Russia has the right to intervene militarily in eastern Ukraine if its Russian-speaking population is at risk. Putin also admitted, for the first time, that Russia had deployed troops to Crimea ahead of the March referendum in which its citizens voted to join Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the talks in Geneva had left him “hopeful” of a diplomatic solution.
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