The four parties have reached a deal to deescalate the violence in Ukraine today. Text of the deal is as follows:
The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.
All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-semitism.
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.
Amnesty will be granted to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.
It was agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days. The U.S., E.U. and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.
The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.
The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented.
This is a welcome step in the right direction. The section on anti-semitism was important because there were reports that certain separatist factions were seeking to make Jews register.
In addition, Russia's foreign minister said that the situation in Ukraine must be resolved by the Ukrainians themselves.
The most important agreement reached during the talks, according to Lavrov, states that the Ukrainian crisis “must be resolved by the Ukrainians themselves concerning an end to the conflict” including those related to “detaining protesters, occupying buildings” and, in the long run “the start of true constitutional reform.”Concrete steps are already being taken to defuse the crisis. Ukraine is backing off plans on a Russian language ban. The deal means the likely restoration of relations between the US and Russia, something Putin hopes will happen.
“Among the steps that have to be taken are: the disarmament of all the illegal armed groups, and the return of all the occupied administrative buildings,” Lavrov told journalists at the Thursday briefing.
Ukraine is showing positive steps in functioning as a nation again. They have turned away 11,000 Russians from the border since the crisis began (Kyiv Post). Russia has returned a ship to Ukraine. Thousands of people rallied in Donetsk in support of a united Ukraine and the police did their jobs and would not let extremist parties sabatoge the march. The US is sending non-lethal aid to Ukraine such as food and medical supplies.
But more work has to be done. Similar to Northern Ireland, this is a process that must constantly be watched. There need to be more talks of this nature in the future so that the parties can ensure that progress is being made. All parties in Ukraine must respect the outcome of the May 25th election. And Ukraine must follow through and give all its people a stake in the new government.
For the US and NATO, the period of expansion is over. The US had no business facilitating the coup in Ukraine, and NATO has no business seeking to incorporate Ukraine as a member. Ukraine and Russia have had ties since the 9th century, something that is not likely to be changed. Ukraine functions best as a neutral country which serves as a buffer against aggression by either NATO or Russia.
Every person has a fight or flight response, and when the US facilitated the coup in Ukraine, it triggered Putin's fight or flight response. For Ukraine to drop into NATO's lap would have been similar to when the Russians put missiles in Cuba and Kennedy responded by threatening a full retaliatory response if Russia were to launch a missile.
As an economic member, Ukraine can and should pursue membership in the EU. But that should not preclude them from seeking ties with Russia as well. Many people in Ukraine consider themselves Russian even though they live in Ukraine. That explains the strong grassroots support for the seizure of buildings in the east. Ukraine should not have to choose between Russia and the EU. There are people who have strong ties to Europe and there are people who have strong ties to Russia.
Ideally, this will hopefully be the first step in a plan by all parties to turn Ukraine into a country which will serve as a gateway between Europe and Asia and a showcase for the best of both worlds. Crimea has historically been part of Russia and Putin has already made plans to turn it into a showcase similar to Singapore. Should Ukraine emerge from the ashes and become a prosperous country, it will result in a lot more investment in Russia that was lost during the present crisis.