Video: Ukraine deal not exactly embraced by either side

posted at 8:01 am on April 18, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday, Russia and the US announced that a “surprise deal” had been reached to defuse the crisis in Ukraine. The deal involved an effort by the government in Kyiv to work on expanding autonomy in the restive eastern provinces in exchange for the return of government buildings held by “pro-Russian separatists,” and the pullback of Russian forces from the border. John Kerry insisted that Russia would either meet its obligations under the agreement or pay a penalty:

Barack Obama heralded the deal at a press conference yesterday:

The potential diplomatic breakthrough, which the Russian foreign minister referred to as “a compromise, of sorts,” came after nearly seven hours of negotiations with Secretary of State John F. Kerry, the Ukrainian foreign minister and the European Union’s foreign policy chief.

Under the agreement, all parties, including separatists and their Russian backers, would stop violent and provocative acts, and all illegal groups would be disarmed. A joint statement made no mention of the presence of what the United States has said are 40,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s eastern and southern borders. But Kerry said it made clear that Russia is “absolutely prepared to begin to respond with respect to troops,” provided the terms of the agreement are observed.

In Washington, President Obama said Russia’s stated commitments were only the beginning of a process.

“My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days, but I don’t think, given past performance, that we can count on that,” Obama said during a White House press conference. “We have to be prepared to potentially respond to what continue to be, you know, efforts of interference by the Russians in eastern and southern Ukraine.”

The Associated Press sounded a bit skeptical:

For that matter, so did Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. He told ITV that the Russians had already invaded eastern Ukraine, and that he doubted this agreement would push them back across the border:

So far, Yatsenyuk has been proven correct:

Pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine’s east who have been occupying government buildings in more than 10 cities said Friday they will only leave them if the interim government in Kiev resigns.

Denis Pushilin, a spokesman of the self-appointed Donetsk People’s Republic, told reporters the insurgents do not recognize the Ukrainian government as legitimate.

Ukraine and Russia, with the United States and European Union taking part in the negotiations, agreed Thursday on tentative steps toward calming tensions along the shared Ukraine-Russia border after more than a month of bloodshed.

But Pushilin, speaking at the insurgent-occupied regional administration’s building in Donetsk, said the deal specifies that all illegally seized buildings should be vacated and in his opinion, the government in Kiev is also occupying public buildings illegally.

“This is a reasonable agreement, but everyone should vacate the buildings, and that includes Yatsenyuk and Turchynov,” he said, referring to the acting Ukrainian prime minister and president.

And that’s Pushilin on a friendly note. CNN reports that he also declared that “Lavrov did not sign anything for us, he signed on behalf of the Russian Federation,” which makes it a little difficult to put much faith in “surprise deals” arranged by Moscow. Few doubt now that Pushilin’s and other such groups are acting on behalf of and probably under the control of Vladimir Putin, but they don’t seem anxious to profess that, and want to use the ambiguity to play both sides against the middle. At least, they’ll do that to the extent that Russia allows it.

The only way to force them to meet their obligations, therefore, is to make Russia pay for their refusal to cooperate. Until the West actually hits Putin hard in the pocketbook, he and his allies in eastern Ukraine will continue to play games and continue to consolidate their power across the border — and potential future targets like Moldova and the Baltic states will get a real sense just how committed the West is to their own security.


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But… they gave up the Sudetenland, which means we have “Peace In Our Time!” that’s what JFK announced yesterday, right?

I am confused. And, hey, why are those Russian tanks still advancing?

ConstantineXI on April 18, 2014 at 8:02 AM

Until the West actually hits Putin hard in the pocketbook, he and his allies in eastern Ukraine will continue to play games and continue to consolidate their power across the border — and potential future targets like Moldova and the Baltic states will get a real sense just how committed the West is to their own security.

It’s gonna get real fun when Putin hits the Baltic NATO countries.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2014 at 8:03 AM

I am confused. And, hey, why are those Russian tanks still advancing?

ConstantineXI on April 18, 2014 at 8:02 AM

They don’t have a gear for reverse.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2014 at 8:04 AM

Whatever John “I got Three Purple Hearts in Vietnam” Kerry says about Diplomatic agreements, the exact opposite is true. There is no done deal here.

Johnnyreb on April 18, 2014 at 8:06 AM

It’s gonna get real fun when Putin hits the Baltic NATO countries.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2014 at 8:03 AM

When Obama reads about that in the paper when he comes down to breakfast at 11:30 he’ll be MADDER THAN EVERYBODY!

ConstantineXI on April 18, 2014 at 8:12 AM

They don’t have a gear for reverse.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2014 at 8:04 AM

French tanks have 6 reverse gears with overdrive, 1 forward gear called “slow walk”.

ConstantineXI on April 18, 2014 at 8:14 AM

Why is it that mousing over links doesn’t show links anymore? It’s been like this for a week or so and HA is the only site giving me this problem.

Connie on April 18, 2014 at 8:15 AM

John Kerry insisted that Russia would either meet its obligations under the agreement or pay a penalty:

….ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha STOP! …ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha …you’re killing me!

KOOLAID2 on April 18, 2014 at 8:22 AM

It’s gonna get real fun when Putin hits the Baltic NATO countries.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2014 at 8:03 AM

With the ghost tank divisions that are currently rampaging through Alaska?

David Blue on April 18, 2014 at 8:31 AM

Ukraine’s allowing this slow-motion, not a shot fired, take over of their country is a joke.
If it was reversed, Ukraine taking over buildings and bases of Russia in a similar fashion you don’t think the first building taken over by “Ukrainian separatists” wouldn’t have been blasted to pieces by the Russians and every occupier killed and displayed to the public?

albill on April 18, 2014 at 8:35 AM

Anyone else seeing the same tactic as happened in Kosovo, but in reverse? Infiltration of numerous foreigners, they cause a ruckus, get the government to crack down on them, then cry out how they’re being persecuted and need help.

The only difference this time is who will be the “liberators”: Russia, instead of NATO.

GWB on April 18, 2014 at 8:40 AM

If Ketchup boy says something, I believe the opposite.

Mini-14 on April 18, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Connie on April 18, 2014 at 8:15 AM

Try a different browser. I’m seeing links when I mouse over just fine.

The Monster on April 18, 2014 at 8:57 AM

Putin: “Hey, Obama, told me to you Ukrainians, ‘If you like yo country, you can keep yo country.’”

BuckeyeSam on April 18, 2014 at 9:02 AM

The ignorant here are buying this “Putin = Hitler” crap like Philip Seymour Hoffman buys heroine.

antisense on April 18, 2014 at 9:04 AM

If it was reversed…

albill on April 18, 2014 at 8:35 AM

It already is “reversed”; the resistance is simply imitating all the moves the junta made in taking power just weeks ago.

Anyone else seeing the same tactic as happened in Kosovo, but in reverse?

GWB on April 18, 2014 at 8:40 AM

The relevant model is from Maidan square in Kiev.

I don’t understand how people can make believe that such recent and important events aren’t relevant.

The junta overthrew the elected government and its first act in power was to bar official use of the Russian language, which shows the true face of ethnic prejudice. Of course Russian-speaking Ukrainians don’t like it! Why would they like losing their democratic rights and being dominated by an ethnic nationalist junta opposed to them?

And under the circumstances, the junta is not “Ukraine”; it is just a part of Ukraine: the part that just took power in a coup.

David Blue on April 18, 2014 at 9:31 AM

The ignorant here are buying this “Putin = Hitler” crap like Philip Seymour Hoffman buys heroine.

antisense on April 18, 2014 at 9:04 AM

And talking about the blitzkrieg Putin is about to launch on the Baltic states. It’s unreal.

In a year when nothing like that has happened, all the people saying that will just forget what they predicted, so that they were never wrong. But in their minds Putin will still be Der Fuhrer.

David Blue on April 18, 2014 at 9:36 AM

David Blue on April 18, 2014 at 9:31/9:36 AM

I’m sensing you’re a bit defensive. Man-crush on Putin?

Oh, and the relevant model *is* Kosovo – if you’re talking strategy and not tactics.

GWB on April 18, 2014 at 9:43 AM

The ignorant here are buying this “Putin = Hitler” crap like Philip Seymour Hoffman buys heroine.

antisense on April 18, 2014 at 9:04 AM

I don’t think he ever paid for an actress to play a heroic role. Oh, you meant “heroin”.

Yeah, it’s not like there are any similarities. Putin’s using his military to take over the Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine, while Hitler used his military to take over the German-speaking parts of Czechoslovakia (oh, what the heck, just take the whole thing!). Completely different!

The Monster on April 18, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Jesus…you guys just won’t quit.

vlad martel on April 18, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Putin: “Hey, Obama, told me to you Ukrainians, ‘If you like yo country, you can keep yo country.’”

BuckeyeSam on April 18, 2014 at 9:02 AM

Everything Obama says has an expiration date.

ConstantineXI on April 18, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Umm .. remember some place called Crimea?

corona79 on April 18, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Everything Obama says has an expiration date.

ConstantineXI on April 18, 2014 at 10:00 AM

The POTUS should have no say in whether some autonomous regions of a country bordering Russia can join the larger.

Not everything is about Obama, or Hitler.

antisense on April 18, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Have they invaded Finland yet?

vlad martel on April 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM

The only way to force them to meet their obligations, therefore, is to make Russia pay for their refusal to cooperate.

Obama and the Europeans won’t do squat.

GarandFan on April 18, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Oh, and the relevant model *is* Kosovo – if you’re talking strategy and not tactics.

GWB on April 18, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Strategically, the model America is following is one of continuous subversion and sponsored revolutions. The reason is, there are more radical leftists in Washington than in Moscow nowadays.

David Blue on April 18, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Neville Obama got a piece of paper.

Blaise on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 AM

By the way, why take seriously an “agreement” reached at a meeting in which the resistance in South and East Ukraine was not present?

David Blue on April 18, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Neville Obama got a piece of paper.

Blaise on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 AM

There was also the deal from February, signed by three EU foreign ministers, which called for restoration of the constitution etc..

There is no indication anybody in the EU has the slightest interest in honoring their deals.

David Blue on April 18, 2014 at 11:14 AM

I’m sensing you’re a bit defensive. Man-crush on Putin?

GWB on April 18, 2014 at 9:43 AM

I prefer Putin to Arseniy Yatsenyuk. I also think post-climbdown Gaddafi was better that Al Qaeda, Hosni Mubarak was better than the Muslim Brotherhood, and the relatively Christian-tolerant Bashar al-Assad in Syria is better than, again, Al Qaeda.

The only good thing about American policy in Ukraine is that supporting fascists to overthrow democracy is probably not as bad for America as encouraging revolutions that empower Islamists.

David Blue on April 18, 2014 at 11:35 AM

How do you say ‘Hudna’ in Russian?

slickwillie2001 on April 18, 2014 at 11:41 AM

It’s gonna get real fun when Putin hits the Baltic NATO countries.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2014 at 8:03 AM

I’m betting NATO inserts hands in pockets, clears throat, looks down and scuffs toe in dirt. Period.

butch on April 18, 2014 at 12:59 PM

John Kerry insisted that Russia would either meet its obligations under the agreement or pay a penalty[.]

It’s not a penalty! It’s a Shared Responsibility Payment!!

Gene Hunt on April 18, 2014 at 1:22 PM

I’m betting NATO inserts hands in pockets, clears throat, looks down and scuffs toe in dirt. Period.

I’m betting you’re wrong on both points.

First, Putin is not going to invade the Baltic States.

Second, if for some crazy inexplicable reason Putin does invade, then I bet you double or nothing that NATO responds to the aggression rather quickly.

Pincher Martin on April 18, 2014 at 2:05 PM

It’s gonna get real fun when Putin hits the Baltic NATO countries.

Happy Nomad on April 18, 2014 at 8:03 AM

There is absolutely nothing for Putin in Baltics. They will die of their own accord and choices made. So far, as of 3 weeks ago when Russia cut their sea shipments via Baltics, economy there took a dive 20% worth. IN JUST 3 WEEKS. And its not even a full on Russian embargo yet, with NG still flowing. Come winter, though, who knows, Baltics demand more NATO bases, hope they got enough forests to keep them warm.

Same for Poland and Moldova. Two rather poor countries with most of the male population making money in EU. Local economy nonexistent.

Russia will take over its historical lands in Eastern and Southern regions of what is Ukraine, as well Pridnestrov’e and Gagauzia (both in Moldova). McCain was yesterday in Moldova, as he was on Maidan in December and January (and Nuland was on Maidan in December as well) to light fire in yet another region there. Made a promise to Moldova that USA will fight for them. Same promises he made on Maidan. End result is hundreds of lives lost so far in Ukraine, who knows how many more in Moldova.

House really should cut CIA funds if we want our dollar to still be international business currency. One option both Russia and China have not exercised yet showing great restraint. Should be great for our economy /s

riddick on April 18, 2014 at 11:32 PM

Second, if for some crazy inexplicable reason Putin does invade, then I bet you double or nothing that NATO responds to the aggression rather quickly.

Pincher Martin on April 18, 2014 at 2:05 PM

You’ll loose that bet. Easily. Most of EU is now telling each other that the other guy has to respond to Russia, not one member yet has said “I will”. Most of them still know the sound of Russian language. Plus, there is absolutely nothing for EU left in Ukraine now that Crimea and Eastern/Southern regions will be back to their historical demarcations. NATO wanted Sevastopol to control Black Sea, they failed. NATO wanted heavily industrial regions of Donbas, they failed.

There is nothing left to fight for. They’d rather sit on their couches and watch TV than put their lives in danger. And while just a small percentage of EU population will put their lives in danger for Ukraine, 80% of Russians will, and I am sure I am being pessimistic. We made Putin a hero in Russia where just 3 months ago most of the population didn’t like the guy.

Read local blogs there instead of fantasizing.

riddick on April 18, 2014 at 11:40 PM

I think rather than fighting for Victoria Nuland’s right to choose the government of Eastern Ukraine, Americans would be better off to fight for their right to dominate America.

Unfortunately, they have a bipartisan ruling class that is all for the Mexican invasion.

This, and not the political aspirations of Russian-speaking East Ukrainians, is the great threat to the American nation.

David Blue on April 19, 2014 at 3:36 AM

Riddick,

You’ll loose that bet. Easily.

No, I won’t. And your tedious description of how much Europeans love their sofas, and aren’t militarily committed to Ukraine, is not a serious rejoinder proving I’ll lose my wager.

I don’t think the Baltic States should’ve been given NATO membership. They’re not important enough to deserve it and they’re difficult to defend. The border of Estonia is only a two-hour drive from St Petersburg for Chrissakes.

But now that those states are in the military alliance, the U.S. and Europe know they have to be committed to their defense and must respond to any Russian aggression against them or risk the entire alliance falling apart.

I don’t know if NATO could stop a determined Russian attack on the Baltic States. I doubt it. But Putin knows if he goes through with such an invasion, then a new Cold War begins in earnest – which is probably why he hasn’t seriously threatened them.

Pincher Martin on April 19, 2014 at 2:54 PM