Deal Reached to Defuse Ukraine Crisis

How It Works
April 17 2014 2:00 PM

Ukraine Deal Reached

485319029-secretary-of-state-john-kerry-speaks-during-a-press
Kerry the De-Escalator.

Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

While Vladimir Putin cranked up the rhetoric to maximum hawkishness back in Moscow today, and the situation continued to deteriorate in eastern Ukraine with three pro-Russian militants killed during an apparent attempt to take over a Ukrainian military base, the diplomats actually had a pretty productive day in Geneva.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchystsia, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton have reached a deal intended to defuse the crisis:

In addition to disarmament of illegal groups, the seven-paragraph “Joint Geneva Statement” called for the return of “all illegally seized buildings . . . to legitimate owners” and said that “all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.”
As Ukraine’s interim government has previously offered, the agreement also grants amnesty to protesters, “with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.”…
It voiced support for a constitutional reform process currently underway in Ukraine and insisted that it be “inclusive, transparent and accountable.” The process, it said, “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.”
Advertisement

In practice, this will likely mean much greater political autonomy for Ukraine’s predominantly Russian-speaking eastern regions.

Hopefully the deal leads to the de-escalation of a situation that appeared to be on the verge of spiraling into mass violence, but there are a lot of unresolved questions, including how the regional governments of eastern Ukraine will interact with Kiev going forward, particularly on the issue of EU integration, which sparked this crisis in the first place. I'll also be curious to see what a referendum on the future status of eastern Ukraine will actually look like.

The agreement also doesn’t address the 40,000 Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border, meaning that Kiev could essentially be negotiating with a gun to its head in the weeks to come. The U.S. sanctions on Russian officials will presumably remain in place and could complicate other areas of cooperation for Washington and Moscow. Then, of course, there’s Crimea, which Ukraine is almost certainly not going to recognize as Russian territory and which Russia will almost certainly not give up.

Hopefully, at least this most dangerous phase of the crisis is coming to an end—although deals that seem secure have had a habit of falling apart very quickly in Ukraine—but even in the best scenario, we’re still a long way form being out of the woods.  

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Photos of the Crowds That Took Over NYC for the People’s Climate March

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

I Wrote a Novel Envisioning a Nigerian Space Program. Then I Learned Nigeria Actually Has One.

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 22 2014 9:39 AM Adrian Peterson Has a Terrible Contract, and Cutting Him Would Save the Vikings a Lot of Money
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 22 2014 9:12 AM What Is This Singaporean Road Sign Trying to Tell Us?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Science
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 7:47 AM Predicting the Future for the U.S. Government The strange but satisfying work of creating the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 22 2014 5:30 AM MAVEN Arrives at Mars
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.