Ukraine Agreement: ‘Propaganda’ and Low Expectations?

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BBC reports: “Russia, the U.S. and the European Union have said that all sides have agreed to steps to “de-escalate” the crisis in Ukraine. …

“Following the Geneva talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said there was agreement that all illegal military formations in Ukraine must be dissolved, and that everyone occupying buildings must be disarmed and leave them.”

MIKHAIL BEZNOSOV, [in Ukraine] mikhailb at u.arizona.edu, skype: mikhailb1966

Head of the governing board of the East-Ukrainian Society for International Studies, Beznosov is now an associate professor in sociology at Kharkiv National University. He received his PhD in political science from the University of Arizona, where he continues to be an adjunct professor. He said today, “The proposed plan is the only option to resolve the crisis in its current state. I am still skeptical though, that this is going to release the tensions in the short run. The problem is that Kiev authorities do not control all neo-Nazi or radical nationalist groups who refused to disarm when the government officials demanded disarming. It is also not clear how the disarming will be accepted now by the protesters in Eastern Ukraine, when they saw that this did not work previously with their main adversaries. The other problem is that many of those radical nationalist (neo-Nazi) fighters, who acted for several months in Kiev and now are being used to suppress the protest in the east and the south of Ukraine, were co-opted into the newly formed National Guard of Ukraine and other semi-legal armed ‘militias.’ I do not really see how these problems will be resolved at this point, but with the political will that the three major players put into pressuring the Kiev authorities, perhaps, it can be done eventually.”

Regarding the BBC report where “Mr. Kerry said the extent of the crisis had been highlighted in recent days by the ‘grotesque’ sending of notices to Jews in eastern Ukraine, demanding that they identify themselves as Jewish,” Beznosov said, “I think that this is the typical example when the information is not confirmed but used at such a serious forum. Now we can see the attempt to attach the ‘anti-Semitic’ label to anti-fascist protesters in eastern Ukraine, when in reality the anti-Semitism is a part of the ideology of such groups as ‘Right Sector’ or the political party ‘Svoboda,’ that represent the spectrum of political forces fighting against the protesters in the east and the south of Ukraine.”

JOHN QUIGLEY, quigley.2 at osu.edu

Professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University, Quigley dealt with the Crimea issue following the breakup of the USSR, at the request of the U.S. Department of State, which was working through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on the issue. Today, he said, “It is a move in the right direction if Mr. Kerry is agreeing to forego new sanctions on Russia. Those sanctions would not have served a purpose in any event.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu

Boyle is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999) and Tackling America’s Toughest Questions (2009). He said today, “Ukraine did not commit itself to constitutional reform and it was very cleverly and deviously drafted language. So no agreement upon this issue. It says nothing about Ukraine staying out of NATO; and it is not a good sign that this was not a joint [media] conference by Lavrov and Kerry.

“Kerry’s allegations [about East Ukraine anti-Semitism] sound like propaganda to me given…all the anti-Semitic statements coming out of Kiev and the warning by the [Ukrainian Chabad Chief] Rabbi Reuven Azman of Kiev [for Jews to leave Ukraine].

“So it does not sound to me as if Kerry is proceeding in good faith here, which is a bad sign.

“Even if they have agreed upon what Lavrov said they agreed upon, how are they going to get the people on the ground on either side to comply?”

STEPHEN COHEN, sfc1 at nyu.edu

Cohen is professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University. His books include Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War. He was interviewed on Democracy Now! this morning.

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