This post will be updated over the weekend as events require, so please check back.
To begin with, here’s the full text of the agreement reached in Geneva on Ukraine:
The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.
All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-semitism.
All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.
Amnesty will be granted to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.
It was agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days. The U.S., E.U. and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.
The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.
The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented.
It’s a good and promising start, and a sign that there is a diplomatic solution at the end of this particular tunnel—even if, so far, it isn’t recognized by the pro-Russian thugs who’ve taken over government buildings in several cities across eastern Ukraine—among whom, NATO says, are a number of secret Russian forces à la Crimea. There’s still a long way to go, before some sort of more final accord is reached on a compromise between Russia’s demand that Ukraine be essentially divided and broken up and Kiev’s demand—backed by the United States, so far—that Ukraine be only slightly less centralized than it has been. But, because Russia holds the high cards in military terms, and wields huge economic influence over Ukraine, Moscow can hang tough and probably get most of what it wants. The real news here is that President Obama—perhaps because of his noted caution in foreign policy and perhaps because Western Europe, closely tied economically to Russia, is far more cautious than the United States is—is apparently committed to a diplomatic resolution above all.