Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions _ for now

continued from page 1

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

View results

He repeated Moscow’s statement that it does not intend to intervene militarily in Ukraine.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered slightly less assuring words. He reserved the right to act to protect ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine, but said he hoped it wouldn’t be necessary to send in troops to do so.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia called the agreement “a test for Russia to show that it is really willing to have stability in this region.”

The U.S. and EU were prepared to broaden their list of Russian and Ukrainian officials and oligarchs whose assets and Western travel have been frozen if Thursday’s talks hadn’t shown movement.

Even more punishing sanctions against Moscow’s energy and banking sectors have been threatened. The EU is Russia’s biggest trading partner and oil and gas client, and it has been reluctant to push ahead with penalties that would undercut its own citizens.

The EU instead has chastised Russia for threatening to cut off gas deliveries to Ukraine - a route for pipelines to Europe.

In a letter Thursday, EU President Jose Manuel Barroso told Putin that Russia would risk its reputation as a reliable supplier should Ukraine’s gas supplies be cut off. Moscow had threatened to end the deliveries to force Kiev to pay debts.

In Ukraine, meanwhile, the interior ministry described a mob in Mariupol of about 300 people armed with stun grenades and firebombs - following the pattern of battle-ready militia bearing sophisticated weapons that have been involved in seizing government offices in the country’s eastern regions.

Ukraine also began stringent checks for Russian citizens seeking to enter the country, and Russian airline Aeroflot reported a ban on Russian men between the ages of 16 and 60 visiting except when traveling with family or to funerals of relatives.

In a four-hour nationally televised call-in show in Moscow, Putin insisted that Russian special forces were not fomenting unrest in Ukraine, as Kiev and the U.S. claim.

But Putin also seemed to keep the door open for Russia to recognize Ukraine’s presidential election set for May 25, softening his previous demand that it must be postponed until the fall and preceded by a referendum on broader powers for the regions.

Ukraine has asked for military assistance from the U.S., a request that was believed to include lethal aid such as weapons and ammunition. Obama administration officials have said they were not actively considering lethal assistance for fear it could escalate an already tense situation.

The U.S. has already sent Ukraine other assistance, such as pre-packaged meals for its military.

In Brussels, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the military alliance would increase its presence in Eastern Europe, including flying more sorties over the Baltic region west of Ukraine and deploying allied warships to the Baltic Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. NATO’s supreme commander in Europe, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, told reporters that ground forces also could be involved at some point, but he gave no details.

___

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks