Yesterday, the U.S., EU, Russia, and Ukraine came to a surprisingly speedy agreement to de-escalate tensions in the eastern part of the country. Per a joint statement delivered by representatives from the four nations, "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." As of today, none of that has really happened.
The pro-Russian militia groups occupying government buildings said that they won't vacate unless the people who "occupied" them first — interim leaders in Kiev who took over after the fall of the previous president — do the same. The Associated Press reports:
Denis Pushilin, a chairman of the self-appointed Donetsk People's Republic, told reporters that the insurgents do not recognize the Ukrainian government as legitimate... Pushilin, speaking at the insurgent-occupied regional administration's building in Donetsk, said the deal specifies that all illegally seized buildings should be vacated, and in his opinion the government in Kiev is also occupying public buildings illegally.
Pushilin explained that he thinks the agreement is reasonable, but that "everyone should vacate the buildings and that includes [interim prime minister Arseniy] Yatsenyuk and [acting President Oleksandr] Turchynov." But he also said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "did not sign anything for us, he signed on behalf of the Russian Federation." Some separatists fear repercussions for their actions, even though the terms of the deal stipulated that those involved in the unrest who have not committed capital crimes will be granted amnesty. One armed insurgent who is occupying police headquarters in Slaviansk told Reuters that "we are not leaving the building, regardless of what statements are made, because we know what is the real situation in the country and we will not leave until our commander tells us to."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday that if tension doesn't ease by this weekend, Washington will pull the trigger on new sanctions against Russia, currently tabled as part of the agreement. Yesterday, President Barack Obama said of the deal, "I don't think we can be sure of anything at this point." Which is fair, considering it seems even the insurgents themselves aren't sure of anything at this point, either:
The joint agreement implied that Russia has been stirring unrest in the region, an accusation the Kremlin has, rather unconvincingly, denied. Global leaders already appear to be pointing fingers at Russia for failing to alter the situation in east Ukraine.
Looks like it might be time for plan B.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.