Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

National news

April 18, 2014

Obama voices skepticism on Russia in Ukraine

(Continued)

In his comments from the White House, Obama noted that Russia has thousands of troops massed along its border with eastern Ukraine, a deployment he called a measure of intimidation. He said the United States and others think Russia has played a hand in the "disruption and chaos" that have recently spread through southern and eastern Ukraine.

The agreement sketched out in Geneva would give amnesty to protesters who evacuate buildings they have occupied, except those found guilty of capital crimes. It says Kiev's plans to reform its constitution and transfer more power from the central government to regional authorities must be inclusive, transparent and accountable — including through the creation of a broad national dialogue.

At the same time, the agreement gives Moscow a dayslong reprieve from threatened U.S. and European Union economic sanctions. The U.S. accuses Russia of stoking a potential eastern Ukraine separatist revolt against Kiev following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's strategic Crimean peninsula.

Obama said Ukraine had promised to respect the rights of residents of the southern and eastern part of the country, many of whom speak Russian or have other ties to their next-door neighboring country.

As for Russia, Obama said, "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, and 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."

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