A potential peace deal for Ukraine has emerged after months of political chaos, deadly violence, economic volatility and the worst crisis between Russia and the West in a generation. Here’s a look at the plan, crafted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation and Europe, a security and rights monitoring group made up of European countries including Russia.
WHAT’S IN IT?
The plan calls for all sides to refrain from violence, intimidation and provocations, with OSCE teams helping to investigate and prosecute violations. Protesters occupying buildings would leave and surrender their weapons, and receive amnesty in return. No more referendums would be allowed, after a hastily arranged vote in Crimea led to the region joining Russia, and after insurgents in two other eastern provinces organized ballots last weekend.
Central to the plan is a series of round-table talks and town hall meetings involving Ukrainian authorities and those who “feel alienated from government” – such as the insurgents in eastern Ukraine. The talks would aim to decentralize Ukraine’s government and maintain the status of the Russian language, which is commonly spoken in Ukraine, especially in the areas where opposition to the Kiev government runs highest.
Nationwide presidential elections on May 25 would go ahead as planned, possibly with added questions related to the issues under discussion.
WHO SUPPORTS IT?
The plan was worked out by Switzerland, which holds the rotating leadership of the OSCE. It was presented last week to Russia, Ukraine, the United States and European Union.
Russia has welcomed the initiative, which reflects some key demands of the insurgents. Russian President Vladimir Putin talked with Swiss President Didier Burkhalter about it last week and again Monday.
The EU threw its weight behind the effort on Monday, and Germany’s foreign minister talked it up in Ukraine on Tuesday. France and Germany had already pushed for a national dialogue between the interim government in Kiev and representatives of all Ukrainian regions.
The United States is more skeptical of the plan’s chances for success in part because it feels Russia didn’t carry out its obligations under earlier agreements. That said, the U.S. appears to see little harm in testing Putin’s willingness to accept this road map.
The position of Ukraine’s government is unclear. Acting Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk approved round table talks moderated by a veteran German diplomat, but insisted Tuesday that Ukraine – not the OSCE – should negotiate the future of the country with its own citizens. The foreign ministry lamented that the plan doesn’t include any specific obligations for Russia.
The OSCE is setting up a fund to finance a disarmament program that would get armed groups to give up their weapons and release hostages and buildings. It is also prepared to bolster its 200-member mission in Ukraine. Germany’s foreign minister is in Ukraine trying to get the Ukrainian government and its foes to negotiate.
But major hurdles remain: Ukraine’s fumbling authorities would need to draft and pass an amnesty law, keep violence in check and organize talks with their opponents, which so far they have refused to do.
And it’s unclear who speaks for the insurgents, who lack a single leader or agreed goals. When Putin asked them not to hold last weekend’s referendums they did so anyway.