Eastern Ukraine militants snub Geneva deal on crisis


James Reynolds reports as activists reinforce barricades in Donetsk

Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk say they will not leave the government building there, defying the Kiev authorities and threatening a new international deal on Ukraine.

The separatists' spokesman said that the Kiev government was "illegal" and so they would not go until it stepped down.

Russia, Ukraine, the EU and US earlier agreed that illegal military groups in Ukraine must leave official buildings.

The deal was reached in Geneva.

The sides agreed that illegal military groups in Ukraine must be dissolved, and that those occupying buildings must be disarmed and leave them. The foreign ministers also agreed that there would be an amnesty for all anti-government protesters.

US President Barack Obama has cautiously welcomed the Geneva deal.

But he warned that the US and its allies were ready to impose new sanctions on Russia - accused by the West of supporting the Ukrainian separatists - if the situation failed to improve.

A tense standoff continues in eastern Ukraine, where separatists - many of them armed - are occupying official buildings in at least nine cities and towns.

Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, 18 Apr 14 The "Donetsk People's Republic" refuses to recognise the Kiev authorities
East Ukraine map

Alexander Gnezdilov, spokesman for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, said his group would evacuate the government building in the eastern city only when the "illegal" Kiev government vacated parliament and the presidential administration.

Another protest leader in Donetsk said the separatists would not leave unless pro-European Union demonstrators in Kiev's Maidan Square - the vanguard of the protest movement that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Moscow - packed up their camp first.

A statement from the Donetsk separatists said "we cannot accept the values of the Kiev junta, we have our heroic past going back to World War Two, we are the Russian bear which is waking up".

"Don't worry, everything will stay peaceful and orderly. The only problem is if the Kiev junta want war."

They said they would not ask Russia for help yet, but "we will have a referendum before 11 May, about Donbass independence - after that we will ask for help".

The BBC's James Reynolds recorded his day as he and a BBC team covered events in eastern Ukraine

Addressing the Ukrainian parliament on Friday, interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said an amnesty bill had been prepared for separatists who laid down their arms and left government buildings - and he urged them to do so.

"Russia was made to condemn extremism and to agree that all bandit groups should immediately lay down arms and vacate premises. So vacate. Your time is over. We are urging them to immediately observe what the Russian minister signed and to leave Ukraine alone," he said.

But later the Ukrainian interim authorities struck a more conciliatory tone. In a joint televised address, Mr Yatsenyuk and acting President Oleksander Turchynov appealed for national unity and promised to meet some of the demands of protesters in the east of the country.

They said they would support constitutional change, including the devolving of power to local councils - including over their official language, a key demand of Russian-speakers.

In other developments on Friday:

  • The interior ministry in Kiev issued an arrest warrant for Olexander Yanukovych, the eldest son of fugitive ex-President Yanukovych and a millionaire businessman, for alleged forgery of documents; the ex-president fled to Russia in February - it is not clear where he or Olexander are now
  • Russian shares bounced back after the Geneva deal - the RTS index in Moscow was up 2.8% and the MICEX up 2.3%. They had slumped earlier in the week
  • Russia demanded that Kiev explain an official notice restricting entry to Ukraine for most Russian men aged between 16 and 60.
Media spotlight on Putin

Russian newspapers devoted their front pages on Friday to coverage of a four-hour televised phone-in with President Vladimir Putin, rather than the Geneva talks.

"Vladimir Putin: You don't need to worry about a thing" said the front-page headline in Rossiskaya Gazeta, while Kommersant bore the headline: "Putin charts a stubborn line".

Pro-unity protest in Donetsk. 17 April 2014 These pro-Kiev protesters took to the streets in Donetsk

Mr Putin was repeatedly applauded by Russians during the live event, in which he demanded firm security guarantees and equal rights for Russian-speakers in Ukraine.

He said he hoped he would not have to use his "right" to send Russian forces into Ukraine.

Moscow is believed to have tens of thousands of troops massed along the border with its neighbour.

Mr Putin was speaking after Wednesday night's clash in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, in which three separatists were reportedly killed by Ukrainian security forces after hundreds of pro-Russians attacked a military base.

Start Quote

It is good that Russia is not taking the risk of an open confrontation with the West”

End Quote Vadym Karasyov Segodnya daily, Ukraine
US-UK resolve

But speaking in Washington just hours later, President Obama expressed scepticism as to whether Russia would keep its side of the bargain.

"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," he said.

In a telephone call with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the two leaders agreed that the United States and Europe were prepared to take further measures to impose a new round of sanctions if Russia failed to help restore order.

And speaking on Friday, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "We do want to see over this weekend Russia take the necessary actions to reduce tensions to make sure the agreement in Geneva yesterday is upheld.

"We believe that Russia contributed to destabilising the east of Ukraine over the last week, now it's an important obligation on them to contribute to stabilising it.

"We will all want to see evidence of that otherwise we will return to imposing more sanctions on Russia as we agreed at the beginning of the week."

Ukraine has been in crisis since President Yanukovych was toppled in February.

Russia then annexed the Crimean peninsula - part of Ukraine but with a Russian-speaking majority - in a move that provoked international outrage.


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Ukraine crisis


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  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    To those who say May elections will solve the problem in Ukraine, this is not so. Ukraine is split between East and west and they have radically different ideas, A presidential election will solve nothing. Ukraine will be better-off without any President. It needs federal regional governments and should remain independent ...not a puppet of the EU and US.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    Ukraine is very complex and deserves more than simplistic HYS comments spouting political dogma.
    So,you withdraw your speculative musings on the imminent Baltic States invasion then? Or is that nice and simple?


  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    Fao Mike Martin.How do you propose to stop sympathisers re-supplying them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    It seems to be that the current majority here are convinced that the US and EU are putting a spin on things for their own benefit. this is probably true.

    but of course so is Russia, so there's no point trying to make out that Putin is holding some sort of moral high ground.

    At the end of the day Ukraine is an unfortunate victim of geography.

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    "Cyphers Steak

    you really think BBC, our state broadcaster, isn't to some degree state controlled?"

    --- No, actually we have laws that guarantee the freedom of the press. Unlike in Russian where they have laws that ensure the press has to say what the government wants.

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    RE: 241 Havoc - What truth??? The 'truth' broadcast by the Russian media??

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    1. Putin and Russia cannot afford further sanctions.
    2. Putin has no right to invade sovereign states.
    3. Britain should be moving an Armoured Brigade into Southern Poland.
    4. The US should deploy assets into the Black Sea.
    5. Diplomatically confront Putin and push, force him to withdraw his forces from the Ukraine borders and the Crimea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    Barney McGrew did it @ 332 said:
    "Putin apologists should queue for the gulag."

    So you think it's wrong to seek a balanced view and you want everyone to believe what the BBC says?

    I'm sure many on here would like to read your views.
    So please share some with us.

    But remember the rules of debating:
    No soundbites
    No neutral arguments
    No straw man comments
    No personal abuse

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    One of the great things about this country is being able to log onto the BBC and other western media outlets and have a good rant about our leaders.

    Sadly in other countries due to state controlled media and the sever repression of free speech you can't.

    So whatever your agenda, or motivation, were all lucky to live in Britain, where all have a voice, even if it comes from a script.

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    @350. D Bumstead
    Minority ?! With the Crimea the were the Majority. Now Putin has taken what he wants his warm water port for his Navy! He is not so concerned with the rest of Ukraine so long as it doesn't disintegrate into chaos as then he will be forced to protect Ethnic Russians. The west gets Ukraine nice little deal. Pity about the people who are protesting they have been used as a gambit!

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    Like the rough video from James Reynolds on what's going on & behind the scenes to get the news.

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    @346. Historical nonsense. A majority in NI/Ulster has consistently - rightly or wrongly - opposed union with Eire/Irish Republic. Or don't elections matter? Of course, that's the difficulty with democracy everywhere. The losers always have problems with the result when it doesn't suit them. The same will happen in the Ukraine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    I completely agree that Ukraine should be allowed to decide its own future and live in democracy. JUST LIKE THEY WERE DOING UNTIL THEIR DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT SAID NO TO EUROPE.

    All this whole fiasco has been is an exercise in regime change aimed at putting in power Victoria Nulands choice of leaders.

    The West will allow no democratic protests against THEIR Ukraine government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    Everyone, E or W, loses because of the waste generated by this confrontation. But I reckon the biggest losers will be the Russian people because their economy will suffer most. Who will want to do business with Russia in the decades ahead given the now perceived untrustworthiness of their government? Trust is hard to win, to some extent had been won, but has now been tossed away like chaff. Daft!

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    346. corncobuk
    Weird, Crimea choose to join Russia and there`s outrage, Northern Ireland choose to join Eire and we send in the army.


    When did that happen?

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.


    "Putin has lost all credibility. First he denies that troops are on their way to the Crimea; then, when they arrive, he denies they are Russian; later he admits they were Russian."

    Almost as bad as Blair and weapons of 'mass distraction' but not quite in that league.

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    Geneva = Munich

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    I think 241 Havoc has been watching too much Russian TV. Putin has lost all credibility. First he denies that troops are on their way to the Crimea; then, when they arrive, he denies they are Russian; later he admits they were Russian. As a result, I am not very hopeful that this latest agreement will be implemented. In the long run the Russian economy will suffer as a result of his duplicity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    Hmmm, Don't forget how this chaos began.

    NATO step up it's encirclement of Russia and allies.
    Ukraine leader ousted, replaced with a EU/US puppet.
    Negative media against Russia mounts (Winter Olympics prime example)
    IMF find billions to give Ukraine.
    US overheard planning new government
    Crimenel element destablyze and kill protesters AND police.
    Media propaganda spin anti Putin

    I'd be angry too

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    Meeting in Geneva was a farce and the West knows it. How do we explain to the people that Russia does not want NATO to its borders, the OSCE is not welcome in Ukraine. Ukraine is a buffer zone between Russia and America, and it will probably stay that way. After referendum Putin will support results and Republic of Donetsk. Of course paramilitaries will never lay down their arms.That is facts.


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