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Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions

Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine


GENEVA (AP) -- Top diplomats from the United States, European Union, Russia and Ukraine reached agreement after marathon talks Thursday on immediate steps to ease the crisis in Ukraine.

Reached after seven hours of negotiation, the agreement does not set out specific directions for Ukraine's future, but it requires all sides to halt any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. It calls for the disarming of all illegally armed groups and for control of buildings seized by pro-Russian separatists to be turned back to authorities.

The agreement puts on hold - for now at least - additional economic sanctions the West had prepared to impose on Russia if the talks were fruitless. That will ease international pressure both on Moscow and nervous European Union nations that depend on Russia for their energy.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the deal the result of a "good day's work" but emphasized that the words on paper must be followed by concrete actions. He said he had warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Moscow would soon feel the brunt of new sanctions should it not follow through on its commitments under the agreement.

"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."

He added that if Moscow does not abide by the agreement, something that would be clear in the coming days, "we will have no choice but to impose further costs on Russia."

The agreement gives amnesty to protesters who comply with the demands, except those found guilty of capital crimes. It says Kiev's plans to reform its constitution and transfer more power from the central government to regional authorities must be inclusive, transparent and accountable - including through the creation of a broad national dialogue.

Monitors with the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe will be tasked with helping Ukraine authorities and local communities comply with the requirements outlined in the agreement.

Speaking at a separate news conference, Lavrov said the OSCE mission "should play a leading role" moving forward.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the U.S. and its European allies for having what he called a double standard concerning Ukraine and said he hoped he would not have to deploy troops to Ukraine.

But he also seemed to keep the door open for Russia to recognize Ukraine's presidential election set for May 25, softening his previous demand that it must be postponed until the fall and preceded by a referendum on broader powers for the regions.

Andrii Deshchytsia, Ukraine's foreign minister, said the "joint efforts to launch the de-escalation ... will be a test for Russia to show that it is really willing to have stability in this region."

Ukraine was hoping to use the Geneva talks - the first of their kind over the crisis that threatens the new government in Kiev - to placate Russia and calm hostilities with its neighbor even as the U.S. prepared a new round of sanctions to punish Moscow for what it regards as fomenting unrest.

Russia had honed a strategy of its own: Push the West as far as possible without provoking crippling sanctions against its own financial and energy sectors or a military confrontation with NATO.

In a television appearance in Moscow on Thursday, Putin denied claims that Russian special forces were provoking unrest in eastern Ukraine. He called the Ukrainian government's effort to quash the unrest a "crime."

In Washington, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. would send non-lethal assistance to Ukraine's military in light of what he called Russia's ongoing destabilizing actions there. He told a Pentagon news conference that the military assistance to Ukraine will include medical supplies, helmets, water purification units and power generators.

Ukraine has asked for military assistance from the U.S., a request that was believed to include lethal aid such as weapons and ammunition. Obama administration officials have said they were not actively considering lethal assistance for fear it could escalate an already tense situation.

The U.S. has already sent Ukraine other assistance, such as pre-packaged meals for its military.

In Brussels, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the military alliance would increase its presence in Eastern Europe, including flying more sorties over the Baltic region west of Ukraine and deploying allied warships to the Baltic Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. NATO's supreme commander in Europe, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, told reporters that ground forces also could be involved at some point, but he gave no details.

---

AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace, AP National Security Writer Robert Burns and AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington, AP Writer Lori Hinnant in Paris and AP Television News Senior Producer Ed Brown in Geneva contributed to this report.

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Rick April 17 2014 at 8:44 PM

Putin and Obama lets man up and resolve this problem without killing people

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2 replies
CPA11973 Rick April 17 2014 at 8:47 PM

fire extinguishers at thirty paces. (:

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Bob Shelley Rick April 17 2014 at 9:20 PM

Obama is no match for Putin.

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kcarthey April 18 2014 at 7:50 AM

I for one have no problem with Putin reconstituting Russia to its pre-WWII Borders. Let Russia deal with the issues of Islamic separatism and terrorism and Eurasia in general. At that point, Russia, China, EU, the US and lesser nations can join together and squelch terrorism in whatever form.

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swifterman April 18 2014 at 7:55 AM

. . .
As the US is the proven instigator - only the US should stop its SECRET war-mongering to the goal to put rockets to the Russian border!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
idraconis April 18 2014 at 7:56 AM

Everything is fine. Nothing to see here, move along.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Iris April 17 2014 at 4:58 PM

Good Luck Kerry
Hope you finally know what you are doing.
Did you read what Jerry said. He makes good sense.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
LewTag April 17 2014 at 6:55 PM

This crisis comes down to whether the Russian people living in Ukraine will stay put...seems like not....if they want to join Russia I say let them...

Flag Reply +4 rate up
dackohersh April 17 2014 at 8:21 PM

V. Putin - isn't this the guy that King George of the Bush looked in the eye.............? Poor judgment on people, including his "choice" for VP, poor judgement on foreign policy including an Iraq war that cost too many American lives and way too much money, oh I forgot that war was run on the credit card. By the way where is that big check from Iraqi oil that was going to pay for that war?

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1 reply
ibefreed dackohersh April 17 2014 at 8:40 PM

Oh heck, that check went into Dick Cheney's pocket lobg ago. Can you say...'Halliburton'?

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1 reply
ibefreed ibefreed April 17 2014 at 8:40 PM

'long ago, that is...

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Bud April 17 2014 at 11:02 PM

Talks Cheap...lets see what happens !

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Mate April 18 2014 at 8:41 AM

Why are we making deals here? Surely everyone should want the same outcome.

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Vimala Nowlis April 18 2014 at 8:48 AM

It seems that democracy is only for people living in capital cities such as Cairo and Kiev. The rest of you folks living in other parts of the country need not bother as your votes do not count.

This is especially true if the choice of the rioters in the capital cities benefits the US and the EU. Then all they have to do is to violently overthrow the government elected by the majority and install their own un-elected minority interim government. If the rest of you try to take back your country, then the US and the EU will rush in to demand peace and declare you guys "terrorists".

That's how democracy works for you poor country folks.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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