What's a Peace Deal Worth in Ukraine These Days?

How It Works
May 15 2014 2:12 PM

What's a Peace Deal Worth in Ukraine These Days?

Pro-Russian militant of the so-called 'Eastern battalion' check passing cars as they stand guard at a checkpoint on the road from Donetsk to Mariupol on May 15, 2014.

Photo by Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images

The good news is that violence seems to have died down in Eastern Ukraine while talks are being held in Kiev about devolving more power to the country’s regional governments. Earlier this week, six soldiers were killed in the Slavyansk region in an apparent ambush by pro-Russian separatists.

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

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

But there’s still good reason to be suspicious that the talks, supported by the U.S., Europe and Russia, will come to much, especially as the separatist rebels are not participating. Ukrainian officials say they would be willing to speak with separatists, just not those with “blood on their hands,” but the main issue at hand here is the guys with guns, and it’s hard to see how talks held without them will accomplish more than the deal brokered by John Kerry in April.


Under that deal, negotiated between Ukraine, Russia, the United States, and the EU, the armed groups were supposed to give up the buildings and towns they were occupying. They did not. Last week, Vladimir Putin said the rebels delay a planned independence referendum. They did not.  

So either the rebels are operating with more independence from Moscow than people realized, or Russia wants it to seem that way, publicly distancing itself from the armed separatists while allowing them to continue to destabilize the country ahead of planned presidential elections on May 25.

(To be fair, agreements signed by pro-European leaders without the input of the rank-and-file have also had pretty short shelf lives.) 

It’s possible that the talks, if the participants are genuine in their aim of devolving more power to the regions, could help the government’s extremely low credibility among voters in the east, who seem – despite their discontent – to mostly want to remain Ukrainians.

But it’s hard to imagine the “little green men” are paying all that much attention.   

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



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

The Ludicrous Claims You’ll Hear at This Company’s “Egg Freezing Parties”

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM Going Private To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
The Vault
Oct. 1 2014 10:49 AM James Meredith, Determined to Enroll at Ole Miss, Declares His Purpose in a 1961 Letter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 10:27 AM 3,000 French Scientists Are Marching to Demand More Research Funding
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.