Armed pro-Russian separatists continue to hold public buildings in eastern Ukraine Friday, saying they need more assurances about their security before they comply with Thursday's international deal ordering them to disarm.
The agreement, brokered by the United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union in Geneva, is "the best hope to date of defusing a stand-off in Ukraine that has dragged East-West relations to their lowest level since the Cold War," says Reuters.
That any deal was reached at all came is a surprise, and it's not immediately clear what happened behind the scenes to persuade the Kremlin, which had shown little sign of compromise, to join calls on the militias to disarm, Reuters says.
And, in fact, during a long, televised question-and-answer session before the agreement was announced, Russian President Putin asserted historic claims over Ukrainian territory and the right to send in Russian troops.
Speaking after the agreement was announced, President Obama said it offered “a glimmer of hope,” but “we’re not going to count on it,” and that the United States will take more punitive action if Russia doesn't abide by its terms.
The Geneva agreement requires all illegal armed groups to disarm; demands an end to the illegal occupation of public buildings, streets and squares; and gives a leading role for overseeing the deal to monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The interim Ukrainian government in exchange has agreed to grant amnesty to protesters who leave the government buildings they've occupied and give up their arms, unless they're suspected of murder or other capital crimes. The Kiev government also is to ensure that constitutional revisions involve “outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies,” a reference to Russian speakers in the eastern part of the country.