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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.

Join the discussion

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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
SCOTT !!!!!!!! April 17 2014 at 11:47 PM

Yeah those guys on the ground have been working..lolol. John Kerry is a Paper Bag. Putin isn't going to pay attention to any of this. Putin has been using un-uniformed troops to cause the trouble. He used them to move into the Crimea. He has just changed thier uniforms into street cloths. Putin is going to use this trouble in the Ukraine to act like the same HERO that he did in Syria. Like someone said Putin is playing CHESS and Obama is playing CHECKERS. Now I think OBAMA is playing Sugarland.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Alexistheking124 April 17 2014 at 11:26 PM

It sounds like Russia gets to keep Crimea.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
d.carns Alexistheking124 April 18 2014 at 12:02 AM

They already had it by peoples popular vote.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
worldcommenter d.carns April 18 2014 at 1:25 AM

They only had it after they took over the Parliment building with "little green men", installed their un-elected Prime Minister and Parliment, then decided to have a vote which did not even have on the ballot the option to stay with Ukraine. Some "election". Sounds like the last election in North Korea or in Russia.

What percentage of the population of Crimea voted and who verified that they actually live there?

Flag +1 rate up
jimjab April 17 2014 at 6:09 PM

Let us settle it with a drinking contest. My money is on the Germans.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Len April 17 2014 at 4:25 PM

All this translates to the Russian oligarchs didn't like being hassled when they went to their dachas on the French Riviera and their sky lodges in Colorado.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
superservicerep April 17 2014 at 11:14 PM

seems like a complete fraud - more citizens being used like cattle

Flag Reply +5 rate up
sanmc58 April 17 2014 at 11:50 PM

Personally, I like that all avenues possible to avoid sending our troops to war are being explored. All those criticizing the effort to avoid sending our kids overseas, should volunteer to go themselves or send their own kids.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
vabdman sanmc58 April 18 2014 at 12:07 AM

I'll go. I'm retired Navy, so I know what needs to be done. There!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
koen42 sanmc58 April 18 2014 at 2:50 AM

The kids volunteered when they signed up. No draft.

Flag Reply 0 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?

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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'?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
ibefreed ibefreed April 17 2014 at 8:40 PM

'long ago, that is...

Flag 0 rate up
forfun01 April 17 2014 at 8:30 PM

Call me bad informed but what do we care what happens to these folks; they sure as hell would not help us if we need it and more than likely will end up cursing us at the end. We never learn!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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