THE GENEVA SETTLEMENT OF THE CRISIS IN UKRAINE: WHAT DOES IT ACTUALLY MEAN?
"International talks between Ukraine, Russia, the US and the EU ended in Geneva on Thursday evening with an unexpected agreement on a series of steps to calm tensions in Ukraine. As foreign ministers from the four parties arrived at Geneva’s Intercontinental Hotel on Thursday morning, diplomats were playing down hopes of substantial progress, given the big differences between the delegations on how to resolve the latest round of conflict in Ukraine’s largely Russian-speaking east. However, after seven hours of negotiations, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and John Kerry and Andrii Deschytsia, his US and Ukrainian counterparts, said a statement had been agreed calling for the disbanding of armed groups, the vacation of occupied streets and buildings, and an amnesty for people detained during the unrest. In addition, Ukraine will embark on a process of constitutional reform designed to foster regional autonomy, local self-government and the protection of minority rights, a process which both Mr Kerry and Mr Lavrov stressed must be “inclusive, transparent, and accountable”. “The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens,” the joint statement said. “All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions.” Mr Kerry and Mr Lavrov said Russia and the US would provide additional staff to the OSCE mission already present in Ukraine to bolster efforts to calm the situation."James Shotter, Christian Oliver & Barney Jopson,"Four-way talks end with agreement on calming Ukraine tensions". The Financial Times. 17 April 2014, in www.ft.com.
"The joint statement says all the right things: "no" to violence, racism and religious intolerance, unofficial armed groups and illegal occupation of public buildings and squares; "yes" to amnesty for protesters who peacefully surrender, monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, broad national dialogue and constitutional revision.... This piece of paper must also be seen in the context of Putin's words and deeds up until almost the moment it was signed. In a television call-in show this morning, Putin said: "Let me remind you that the Federation Council of Russia gave the president the right to use the armed forces in Ukraine. I very much hope that I will not have to exercise this right." He also said Russia will demand that Ukraine pay in advance for natural gas -- at prices well above those charged to customers in the EU. So much for affirming the "importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine," as the agreement puts it. There's another problem, and no other way to put it: Putin lies. He lied about the role of Russian troops and infiltrators in Crimea (which he now acknowledges) and he's lying about their role in eastern Ukraine. Putin's shamelessness in this regard makes Ronald Reagan's borrowed Russian injunction of "trust but verify" seem downright quaint. Putin is likely to betray these latest commitments unless he's convinced that doing so will have consequences. That's why stiffer sanctions before today's negotiations would have helped. Today's agreement works the other way: by raising false hopes it will encourage Europeans opposed to new sanctions to resist all the harder. It's exactly what Putin wanted".Leader, "Ukraine Crisis: Vlad the Prevaricator". Bloomberg. 17 April 2014, in www.bloomberg.com Reading between the lines of the agreement as well as the past performance of the Russian government, it is kinderspielento expect that any such agreement will hold. Why? For the very simple reason as pointed out by Bloomberg in their leader, that the past-performance of the Russian government in the Ukrainian crisis has been exceedingly bad if not in fact horrid. 'Trust' is not a mot which one will immediately associate with the Russian government as it relates to the subject of Ukraine. As the British analyst Judy Dempsey has cogently put it, Russian policy in the entire crisis from start to finish can be summarized as follows:
"As for Ukraine, Russia has never come to terms with its Western neighbor’s independence, which it declared in 1991. Unable to quash Ukraine’s pro-democracy demonstrations, Russia has now gone on the offensive by grabbing parts of the country and destabilizing it in the process 1."There is absolutely no reason to believe that what was agreed to yesterday in Geneva will stop Russian, 'salami tactics' (to employ a phrase made by a Magyar Tovarish in the late 1940's to explain Russian-Communist tactics in the gradual take-over of Central and Eastern Europe), in endeavoring to split-up and take-over as much of Eastern Ukraine as possible. Unless and until the Western powers make absolutely clear, via both stepped-up economic sanctions on Russia and moving up troops to the eastern borders of Poland and the Baltic states, that such actions will be costly in the extreme to Matushka Russia. As it is the reports out of Eastern Ukraine seem to indicate that the pro-Russian stooges are not interested in following the outlines of yesterday's agreement 2. As Bloomberg correctly notes, the only ones who appear to be approving of the agreement are the Western European publics who prefer to pretend that the entire goings on in Ukraine are in fact not occurring. The phrase 'burying their heads in the sand' convey the reality of that state of mind unfortunately. 1. Judy Dempsey, "Europe Looks On as Russia Marches Into Ukraine". Carnegie Europe: Strategic Europe. 17 April 2014, in www.carnegieeurope.eu 2. Luke Harding, "Pro-Russian separatists defiant as Ukraine peace moves flounder". The Guardian. 18 April 2014, in www.theguardian.com