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A Chance For De-escalation In Ukraine


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before a bilateral meeting to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine as diplomats from the U.S., Ukraine, Russia and the European Union gather for discussions in Geneva Thursday, April 17, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry outlined several concrete steps agreed to by the parties with the goal of calming the situation and restoring security for all Ukrainians.

After a meeting in Geneva over the crisis in Ukraine, precipitated by the attempted annexation of Crimea by Russia last month, the massing of tens of thousands of Russian troops on Ukraine’s eastern border, and by Russia’s support for armed anti-government protesters in several Ukrainian cities, Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union have reached an initial agreement aimed at de-escalating tensions.

Speaking at a news conference April 17 in company with European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry outlined several concrete steps agreed to by the parties with the goal of calming the situation and restoring security for all Ukrainians.

One is that all sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. In addition, Secretary Kerry said all participants “strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism, and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism.”

Another step is that illegal armed groups must be disarmed, and all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners.

Third, amnesty will be granted to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrender weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.

The parties also agreed that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures. The U.S., E.U., and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.

Secretary Kerry noted that in the meeting the Ukrainian representative, Foreign Minister Andriy Deschytsia,[Desh-chit-sya] briefed the others on “the extensive and inclusive constitutional reform process” currently underway in Ukraine, “geared to address all of the legitimate grievances.”

Secretary of State Kerry called the agreement “a good day’s work,” but urged that it be “translated immediately into actions.” He said he made it clear to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, that unless there was immediate progress on implementing the agreement, further costs, in terms of additional sanctions, would be imposed on Russia.

“The Ukrainian government has exhibited extraordinary patience and fortitude in the face of enormous challenges and pressure,” said Secretary Kerry. “The Ukrainian people now deserve a right to choose their own future. The international community remains firmly by their side as they travel the difficult, democratic path to prosperity and to peace.”

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