clear
Wednesday May 6th, 2015 9:31AM

Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions

By The Associated Press
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.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 4 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 4 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 4 months ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 4 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 4 months ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 4 months ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 4 months ago )
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 4 months ago )
Politics
Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to ful...
1:00PM ( 1 week ago )
Ex-NFL star Hernandez convicted of murder, sentenced to life
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the d...
8:54PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Clinton kicks off 2016 campaign online, heads next to Iowa
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House with a promise to serve as the "champi...
7:56PM ( 3 weeks ago )
Hall, White, Jefferson schools recognized nationally for use of technology
Three school districts in northeast Georgia - Hall, White, and Jefferson - have received national recognition for their use use of innovative technologies. They earned top spots in the Center for Digital Education's and the National School Boards Association's 10th annual Digital School Districts Survey.
By Staff
1:00PM ( 3 weeks ago )
US Capitol lockdown lifted after man fatally shoots himself
WASHINGTON (AP) — A precautionary lockdown of the U.S. Capitol was lifted after about two hours Saturday following a suicide by a man carrying a protest sign.The man died after shooting himself on the...
6:15PM ( 3 weeks ago )