Ukraine, US, EU, and Russia Reach Agreement to End Violence in East Ukraine

Ukraine, US, EU, and Russia Reach Agreement to End Violence in East Ukraine

The US, EU, Ukraine, and Russia agreed on steps to alleviate the situation in east Ukraine. Secretary of State John Kerry represented the US at the talks in Geneva, and the four attending diplomats released a statement identifying steps to be immediately followed.

“All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions,” said a joint statement released after the four foreign ministers met in Geneva.

“All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated,” it added.

The statement also called for a “broad national dialogue” and said that the OSCE monitoring mission should play a leading role in implementing de-escalation measures in coming days.

Ukraine agreed to give the protesters amnesty if they surrender peacefully. However, persons accused of a capital offence will not receive amnesty.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniyuk visited Donetsk Oblast on April 11 to reiterate the promise of more local powers to the regions in east Ukraine:

“Executive committers of each region will be handed all financial, economic, administrative and other powers so they control their own territories, giving them the ability to develop these territories to attract investment and receive additional income for each region by amending the budget law of Ukraine,” he said.

“The central government is ready not only for dialogue with the regions, but to meet legal demands and wishes of every resident of the country.”

Many of the regional leaders stressed the need for Kyiv to actually listen to the needs and wants of the residents. Pro-Russia Ukrainians have been feeling left out in the cold since parliament ousted Russia-backed president Viktor Yanukovych on February 22. The majority of people in east Ukraine are ethnic Russians and Russian speakers.

Russia agreed with the other three diplomats that the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe needs to be in Ukraine to help ease the tensions and make sure all regions comply with the agreement.

Kerry said for now there will be no additional sanctions against Russia as long as Moscow follows through with the agreement. The US warned Moscow a fourth round of sanctions would be imposed if Russia does not stop aggression towards Ukraine.  

“It is important that these words are translated immediately into actions,” Kerry said at a news briefing. “None of us leaves here with a sense that the job is done because of words on a paper.”

Since April 12, pro-Russian forces have seized over 10 government buildings in east Ukraine, mostly in Donetsk Oblast. These forces attempted to seize one in Mariupol, but the Ukrainian army fought back and killed three protesters.