After nearly seven hours of negotiations in Geneva, representatives from the U.S., E.U., Russia and Ukraine announced Thursday they've reached an agreement on deescalating tensions in Ukraine.
The agreement is focused on resolving the conflict between the fledgling government in Kiev and pro-Russian protesters. Three people were killed and 13 hurt Wednesday night after protesters stormed a military base. (Via Channel 4)
The text of the agreement calls on all illegally-armed groups to lay down their arms and vacate any occupied buildings or streets. In exchange, Kiev has promised amnesty for protesters. The agreement also called on the OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine to oversee these provisions, and reiterated the need for transparent, inclusive constitutional reform. (Via The New York Times)
The document avoids several points of contention between Russia and the West like Russia's annexation of Crimea or the estimated 40,000 Russian troops built up on the Ukrainian border. It also doesn't mention Western sanctions on Russia's economy.
Both sides of the conflict are now focusing on implementing the agreement. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Russia to encourage pro-Russian protesters to lay down their arms.
KERRY: "None of us leave here with the sense that the job is done because the words are on the paper." (Via U.S. Department of State)
And Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave a similar statement in a separate press conference, calling on the Ukrainian government to disband all armed groups across the entire country, and to begin a more inclusive dialogue about the constitutional reform process. (Via Euronews)
The agreement has been greeted with some skepticism in Ukraine. As Al Jazeera reports, anti-government demonstrators are demanding protest groups in Kiev disband first before they lay down their own arms.
"They are always pointing to Kiev as what they see as a bad example. They complain about what they describe as fascist paramilitary groups who've been walking around in uniform, sometimes carrying weapons, in Kiev."
And President Obama cast the Geneva agreement in a pessimistic light during his press conference Thursday, warning Russia further U.S. sanctions could follow if Russia didn't help support the terms of the agreement.
OBAMA: "My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days. I don't think, given past performance, that we can count on that, and we have to be prepared to potentially respond." (Via CBS)
Ukraine's interim government is hoping to come up with a new constitution before their presidential elections, which are scheduled for May 25.