Slaviansk/Donetsk (Ukraine), April 18 (Reuters): Armed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said today they were not bound by an international deal ordering them to disarm and were looking for more assurances about their security before leaving the public buildings they are holding.
The agreement, brokered by the US, Russia, Ukraine and the EU in Geneva yesterday offered 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.
Ukraine said it was preparing a law to give the separatists amnesty although the drive to root them out would continue.
The agreement requires all illegal armed groups to disarm and end occupations of public buildings, streets and squares but with the separatists staying put in the east and Ukrainian nationalist protesters showing no sign of leaving their — unarmed — camps in the capital’s Maidan Square, it was not clear which side would be willing to move first.
Enacting the agreement on the ground though will be difficult, because of the deep mistrust between the pro-Russian groups and the western-backed government in Kiev, which this week flared into violent clashes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin overturned decades of post-Cold War diplomacy last month by declaring Russia had a right to intervene in neighbouring countries and by annexing the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.