Asked about the reality of an announced deal with Russia to reduce tension in Ukraine, President Obama was blunt. "I don't think we can be sure of anything at this point," he said at a press conference on Thursday, neatly summarizing the theme of the entire tense scenario from the beginning. Which is exactly how Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to like it.
Kathleen Hennessey of the Los Angeles Times asked Obama how we could "be sure Russia will follow through" on the agreement. We can't be sure, Obama replied. But: "I think there's the possibility — the prospect — that diplomacy may deescalate the situation and we may be able to move toward what has always been our goal, which is to let the Ukrainians make decisions about their own lives."
It's a possibility, sure, but it's not a particularly robust one. The deal, as The Wire reported, is largely a stopgap measure, offering Russia relief from additional sanctions if it steps in to oppose militias in east Ukraine. Obama continued, "The question now becomes: Will they use the influence they have exerted in a disruptive way to restore order so that Ukrainians can carry out an election?" So far, the Russians have shown little indication that they intend to do so.