Kyiv, April 22, 2014. The deal aimed at mitigating tensions between Russia and Ukraine and suspending Russian involvement in Eastern Ukraine seems to be resulting in nothing more than empty promises on the part of Russia. Five days after the agreement was reached in Geneva, Russian troops remain at Ukraine’s Eastern border, armed insurgents hold positions in seized buildings, and reports of new Russian provocations continue to reach media sources. In the meantime, Ukraine’s parliament started fulfilling its obligations and announced a draft law which guarantees amnesty to all activists who surrender weapons.
After seven-hour talks on April 17, 2014 the negotiating parties agreed that in the next few days all illegal groups must be disarmed and all buildings seized during the crisis must be vacated; in return – all activists will be granted an amnesty. The enforcement of these measures demands that all Russian military units must withdraw from Ukraine’s territory; however, a number of national and international officials have expressed doubt that Russia will make good on the deal.
Shortly after the treaty was signed, Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Yatsenyuk said: “I do not have excessive expectations [from Geneva meetings – UCMC] for the simple reason that I don’t trust the Russian side.”
Despite the agreement, armed insurgents and pro-Russian separatists still continue to occupy public buildings in ten Eastern Ukrainian cities, calling for local referendums that would decide the fate of these regions vis-a-vis their relationship with the Russian Federation. “None of those at the talks directly represented those on the ground, particularly those occupying the buildings” reported Katie Stallard, reporter of Sky News, located in Donetsk.
In addition, international politicians, military experts and the media have caught the Kremlin fabricating a shooting on April 20, 2014. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation reported that Ukraine’s right-wing organization “Pravyi Sektor” (the Right Sector) had allegedly opened fire at a checkpoint manned by pro-Russian activists near Slovyansk, where three people were shot dead. Russian media reported that investigators allegedly retrieved a business card of Dmytro Yarosh – leader of the Right Sector – from the remains of a completely burned down vehicle.
Analysts say that provocations such as this are targeted at escalating the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and at labeling Ukraine’s government as an aggressor who “does not adhere to the Geneva agreement”.
“Unfortunately, neither Russian Federation nor its terrorist special forces located in Ukraine intend to fulfill agreements reached in Geneva”. said Ukraine’s interim President Oleksandr Turchynov during a meeting with the Vice President of the United States Joseph Biden. He stated that instead of disarmament and vacating the seized public buildings, insurgents have once again occupied the Kramatorsk police office, therefore “violating all agreements reached in Geneva.”
Currently, a number of Russian officials are facing sanctions by the EU and the US. In case the Geneva agreement is violated or ignored, a third – and most severe – series of sanctions targeted at Russia’s energy sector will be imposed. Many believe that those sanctions may force Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin to adhere to the Geneva agreement.
Notably, on April 17, 2014 representatives of the European Union, the United States, Ukraine and the Russian Federation reached an agreement on the following: “All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-semitism. All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; 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. Amnesty will be granted to protesters and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes”.