Friday, April 18, 2014

Russian-backed militants ignore Ukraine peace deal

 Only the Russian media, which these days is entirely the “official” media, was ignoring reports that the Geneva peace deal for Ukraine had broken down.

To be fair, it is true that some anti-Yanukovych demonstrators have not left Keiv’s Euromaidan square months after he was ousted, but the Russian-backed militia’s refusal to accept the deal showed that either President Putin was unable to control them or didn’t want to stop them.

In either case his credibility could suffer dramatically.

US President Obama had been cautious about the agreement since it was reached in record time Thursday, though no records are really kept for such negotiations. The talks Thursday lasted less than one full day.

"My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days, but I don't think -- given past performance -- that we can count on that," Obama said during a White House news conference.

World history is replete with stories of insurgencies abandoned by their creators that refused to die.

The BBC said the Kiev government reached out to the rebels, promising to make Russian an official language in regions where it is spoken by the majority of the population.
A US State Department spokeswoman said the Russian government has a responsibility to ”encourage the separatists to stand down.”

The Guardian said the Russian militia groups said they would not leave until a referendum on regional autonomy had been held, and objected to not being part of the negotiations.

There was no sign any of the buildings occupied in several eastern cities were being handed over to the government. Ukrainian government forces nearby also remained in place.

Dennis Pushilin, leader of a group in Donetsk, said “Putin did not sign anything for us, according to the New York Times.

The Kiev government indicated it was proceeding with the plan to disarm “illegal groups,” but not clashes had been reported by Friday evening.

Critics say Putin’s statements about Russia’s historic claims to Ukrainian territory were more important than any resolution that, at the least, was not likely to be historic.

A joint statement by the negotiators said: “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.” The US, European Union, Ukrainian government and Russia participated in the talks.

In their wake, the Russian ruble and Russian markets rebounded from a year-long slump. That showed how much impact the minimum sanctions imposed so far had been effective.

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