The U.S. and Russia Are Now Actually Agreeing on Something in Ukraine

Diplomats from nearly all sides have laid out a few requirements. But will Russia follow through?

Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
April 17, 2014, 9:31 a.m.

A day after the United States said it was pre­par­ing more sanc­tions against Rus­sia, dip­lo­mats from both coun­tries sat down for a chat. And they ac­tu­ally agreed on something.

Rep­res­ent­at­ives from the U.S., Rus­sia, Ukraine, and the European Uni­on have reached an agree­ment about on­go­ing ten­sions after sev­en hours of ne­go­ti­ations in Geneva. The meet­ings co­in­cided with a fal­ter­ing “an­ti­ter­ror­ist cam­paign” by Kiev against pro-Rus­si­an sep­ar­at­ists, who have stormed Ukrain­i­an gov­ern­ment build­ings this month. The Ukrain­i­an mil­it­ary is no match for Rus­si­an forces, and Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin said his Par­lia­ment has al­lowed him to use mil­it­ary force to de­fend pro-Rus­si­an pro­test­ers in Ukraine.

Here’s what Thursday’s agree­ment en­tails:

  • All sides must re­frain from vi­ol­ence, in­tim­id­a­tion, and pro­voca­tion.
  • Il­leg­ally armed groups in Ukraine have to give up their weapons.
  • The gov­ern­ment build­ings just in­side the Ukrain­i­an bor­der re­cently seized by pro-Rus­si­an sep­ar­at­ists must be re­turned to Ukrain­i­an con­trol.
  • Pro­test­ers who com­ply with the above de­mands will be gran­ted am­nesty, ex­cept for those who are found to have com­mit­ted cap­it­al crimes.

Mon­it­ors from the Or­gan­iz­a­tion of Se­cur­ity and Co­oper­a­tion in Europe will now be dis­patched to Ukraine to en­force the re­quire­ments of the agree­ment.

“All of this, we are con­vinced, rep­res­ents a good day’s work,” Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry said dur­ing a press con­fer­ence after the meet­ings. “It has pro­duced com­mit­ments and it has pro­duced words on pa­per.”

However, he con­tin­ued, “words on pa­per will only mean what the ac­tions that are taken as a res­ult of those words pro­duce. So it is ab­so­lutely clear now that these words are im­me­di­ately trans­lated in­to ac­tion.”

In oth­er words: Your move, Mo­scow.

The agree­ment cre­ates a lull in anxi­ety for European coun­tries, whose of­fi­cials wor­ried about im­pos­ing eco­nom­ic sanc­tions and for­cing Mo­scow to re­tali­ate, cut­ting them off from en­ergy sup­plies. It also eases the pres­sure on the White House to act quickly with ad­di­tion­al sanc­tions. But the situ­ation re­mains tenu­ous. Kerry’s re­marks sug­gest he’s more than a little skep­tic­al about how Rus­sia will fol­low through on pulling back from Ukraine. And why shouldn’t he be? Putin’s ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion with me­dia this morn­ing was a near du­plic­ate of state­ments he made a month ago — right be­fore he an­nexed Crimea.

What We're Following See More »
Trump Pocketed Insurance Money Following 2005 Hurricane
19 minutes ago

Donald Trump has said he received a $17 million insurance payment in 2005 following Hurricane Wilma, which he claimed did severe damage to his private club in Florida. However, an Associated Press investigation could not find any evidence of the large-scale damage that Trump has mentioned. Additionally, Trump claimed that he transferred some of the $17 million to his personal account thanks to a "very good insurance policy."

Trump Admits He’s Behind
29 minutes ago
GSA Delays Decision on New FBI HQ Until 2017
32 minutes ago

The General Services Administration "will not choose a location for a FBI headquarters until after the new year, a potential setback for Prince George's County and its aim to land the agency and its 11,000 employees. ... It had hoped to make a decision by the end of 2016, timing which would have favored Maryland in terms of political clout on Capitol Hill. Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker had been pressing for a decision before 2017," while veteran Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who's retiring, can still influence the outcome.

McCarthy, Pelosi Team Up on National Guard Bonuses
47 minutes ago

The majority and minority leader of the House are both saying "California's veterans are not to blame for being mistakenly overpaid, after a Los Angeles Times story revealed that officials are trying to claw back millions in bonuses from California National Guardsmen. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the efforts to recoup the money 'disgraceful,' and asked for the Department of Defense to waive the repayments soldiers would be forced to make if they inappropriately received re-enlistment bonuses for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she's looking for a "legislative fix" in the lame-duck session.

IBD/TIPP Poll Shows a Dead Heat
3 hours ago

A new Investor’s Business Daily/TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence poll shows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each earning 41% support. On the one hand, the poll has been skewing in Trump's favor this year, relative to other polls. But on the other, data guru Nate Silver called the IBD/TIPP poll the most accurate in 2012.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.