GENEVA — Top diplomats from the United States, European Union, Russia and Ukraine reached agreement after marathon talks Thursday on immediate steps to ease the crisis in Ukraine.
The tentative agreement puts on hold — for now at least — additional economic sanctions the West had prepared to impose on Russia if the talks were fruitless. And that will ease international pressure both on Moscow and nervous European Union nations that depend on Russia for their energy.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the deal the result of a "good day's work" but emphasized that the words on paper must be followed by concrete actions. He said he had warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Moscow would soon feel the brunt of new sanctions should it not follow through on its commitments under the agreement.
"It is important that these words are translated immediately into actions," Kerry said at a news briefing. "None of us leaves here with a sense that the job is done because of words on a paper."
He added that if Moscow does not abide by the agreement, something that would be clear in the coming days, "we will have no choice but to impose further costs on Russia."
The agreement, reached after seven hours of negotiation in Geneva, requires all sides to refrain from violence, intimidation or provocative actions. It calls for the disarming of all illegally armed groups and for control of buildings seized by pro-Russian separatists to be turned back to authorities.
It also gives amnesty to protesters who comply with the demands, except those found guilty of capital crimes.
Monitors with the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe will be tasked with helping Ukraine authorities and local communities comply with the requirements outlined in the agreement.