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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

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
idraconis April 18 2014 at 7:56 AM

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

Flag Reply +3 rate up
leslie April 17 2014 at 4:34 PM

Don't anyone bet their lunch on this gettin legs past the weekend!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
ibefreed April 17 2014 at 8:48 PM

The richest in Russia have enough influence to reign in Putin's geo-political dalliances. The Russian economy has been a sinkhole for a while now, its stock market has been sinking, capital has dried up and Russian business leaders are NOT happy at the idea of sanctions by the U.S. and EU. So it is likely that as soon as Putin can figure out a graceful exit to this kabuki theater act, Ukraine will be left alone. This is exactly the strategy Obama, Kerry and the European allies were playing.

Flag Reply +2 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
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
searune April 17 2014 at 8:13 PM

We have to pay for everything involved most likely.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Kat4Hat April 17 2014 at 10:20 PM

This is a positive step. Russia got its black Sea fleet, NATO got to flex muscles and remain relevant, Russia got back on the world stage and stood her ground , nazis given a slap by Ukrainians and discredited. I don't think we could have hoped for more.
There will be a lot of eyes on the west's reaction to any hint of fascism. They will only get one chance to act and will need to betray those they pushed to power. But the "game"  is up. Back to the drawing board

Flag Reply +2 rate up
wizardsking April 17 2014 at 5:40 PM

Putin gets a ticket to do as he pleases with the Ukraines, he can now call them isolated incidents by others, to whom he has no ties. This only means that Russian gets Money. And when all is said and done they also get Ukraine................

Flag Reply +4 rate up
3 replies
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
Jerry April 18 2014 at 5:41 AM

BS! It won't last a week. Putin will not be deterred.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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