Diplomats Talk Nice, as Putin Talks Tough

Pact reached to ease Ukraine tensions, but Putin says use of force still an option
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2014 1:10 PM CDT
Diplomats Talk Nice, as Putin Talks Tough
John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before a meeting in Geneva.   (AP Photo)

Top diplomats from the US, Russia, Ukraine, and the EU promised today to "de-escalate" tensions and avoid "provocative actions," reports the New York Times. But on Russian TV earlier, Vladimir Putin didn't seem interested in making nice, notes the Wall Street Journal. He pointedly kept open the option of sending troops into Ukraine cities, though he added, "I really hope that I do not have to exercise this right." He also placed the blame for the current chaos on Kiev: "Instead of realizing that something has gone wrong in Ukraine and making attempts to start dialogue, they have intensified their threats to use force and have even decided to send tanks and aircraft against the civilian population," he said. "It is another very serious crime on the part of the current Kiev authorities."

The diplomatic meeting in Geneva, meanwhile, featured John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as the main participants. While Kerry hailed a "good day's work," he warned afterward that Moscow's promises to ease tensions must be "translated immediately into actions," reports AP. (Read the participants' full joint statement here.) Among other things, the agreement grants amnesty to armed protesters who surrender. And for now, the US will hold off on further sanctions against Russia. (More Ukraine stories.)

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