Ukraine prepared to offer autonomy to eastern regions if Russia pulls back troops

In his Geneva presentation, Deshchytsia was expected to offer a package of measures to address demands by Russia and the separatists for a more decentralized Ukrainian government. A senior State Department official said the measures would allow regions “to keep more of their money, elect leaders and have more say in federal affairs than in the past.”

“The goal is to make the case that grievances and concerns about decentralization and minority rights . . . can be addressed through the democratic process,” including ongoing constitutional reforms and presidential elections scheduled for May 25.

“The Ukrainian view is that they have worked very hard to open space in this process for legitimate concerns, legitimate grievances, and they want to use this process for that, rather than to have . . . external actors” determining their future,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the closed-door meetings.

But officials expressed little confidence that Russia is seriously interested in anything short of full economic and political control of the east, if not all of Ukraine, and questioned whether any appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin will resonate.