Thursday morning, a four-party meeting was held in Geneva between the United States, the European Union, Russia, and Ukraine, with the intention being to create a plan which would lead to decreased overall hostilities between Ukraine and Russia and the end of the current violence in Eastern Ukraine. After six hours of talks, the four parties have come to an agreement as to how to alleviate the Ukrainian crisis, for now.
The agreement the parties came to had three key criteria toward ending the current hostilities:
1) All "illegally armed groups" in eastern Ukraine must lay down their weapons and cease violent activities.
2) All government buildings and belongings which have been seized by insurgents must be returned to their proper owners.
3) All pro-Russian insurgents will be given amnesty by the Ukrainian government as long as no capital crimes have been committed.
The meeting came after Ukraine launched an anti-terror campaign on Tuesday to nullify the pro-Russian hostilities taking place in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine. The move was made in response to pro-Russian sympathizers seizing governmental buildings in ten eastern Ukrainian cities.
In spite of the peace-talk meeting on Thursday, violence from the insurgents did not cease, with 300 pro-Russians attacking a military base in Mariupol, Ukraine. This attack was coupled with a message from the chairman of the people's council in Donetsk asking for an early referendum to occur in May to decide if the Donetsk region of Ukraine wants to be annexed to Russia as Crimea did previously.
Perhaps of more import, however, were the statements made by Russian president Vladimir Putin Thursday morning on national television.
Until Thursday, Putin had denied any Russian troop involvement in Crimea prior to the vote for annexation. On Thursday, Putin's tone changed completely.
— RT (@RT_com) April 17, 2014
“Of course we had our servicemen behind the self-defense units of Crimea. We had to make sure what is happening now in eastern Ukraine didn’t happen there,” Putin defended.
Putin would go on to add, “In Crimea, the threats to the Russian-speaking population were quite real, palpable. They turned to Russia for help. Russia never planned any annexation or military actions in Crimea... But when this situation came up, when people said they wanted self-determination, that’s when we knew what we had to do. Everyone in the National Security Council agreed. Everything was done quickly and decisively. There have been no analogues in global history.”
Despite stating that the reason for Russian troops being deployed to Crimea was to ensure a fair and proper vote, Putin condemned Ukraine's military presence in the east and warned that Russia would not deem Ukraine's elections for a new president valid unless their current hostilities against the Russian-sympathizers in Ukraine changes.
If Russia does not help bring about the end of the hostilities in eastern Ukraine, the United States is prepared to enact more sanctions against the Russian government. When asked if this Geneva agreement was the last of talks between the four-parties, Secretary of State John Kerry remained pragmatic: “All of this we are convinced represents a good day’s work, but on the other hand, this day’s work has produced principles, and it has produced commitments and it has produced words on paper. And we are the first to understand and agree that words on paper will only mean what the actions taken as a result of those words produce.”
Image via YouTube