Geneva Agreement over Eastern Ukraine May Have Overlooked One Thing: Eastern Ukrainians

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Common Dreams

Geneva Agreement over Eastern Ukraine May Have Overlooked One Thing: Eastern Ukrainians

Separatists, who say the Kiev government is illegimitate, say they are not obligated by deal made without their input or consent

Armed men, who are wearing black and orange ribbons of St. George - a symbol widely associated with pro-Russian protests in Ukraine, stand guard in front of barricades outside the mayor's office in Slaviansk, April 18, 2014. (Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

Armed men, who are wearing black and orange ribbons of St. George - a symbol widely associated with pro-Russian protests in Ukraine, stand guard in front of barricades outside the mayor's office in Slaviansk, April 18, 2014. (Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

A day after top diplomats met in Geneva and announced a deal designed to "de-escalate tensions" in Ukraine, it appears that the actual Ukrainian separatists who have defiantly occupied government buildings in numerous cities in the east do not feel bound by the agreement made without their consent.

Though the agreement announced Thursday by the U.S., Russia, the EU, and the foreign minister of the new Ukraine government in Kiev called for those behind the barricades to lay down their arms and return home, there was little evidence to suggest that this was happening.

According to the Guardian:

There was no sign of separatist groups pulling out from their positions at city halls and in town squares, although several said they would hold meetings on Friday to discuss the implications of the Geneva agreement between Russia, Ukraine, the European Union and the United States to de-escalate the crisis.

In Khartsyzsk, an industrial city 30 miles from Donetsk where separatists have been in control of the city hall since Sunday, local activists said they had no plans to leave public buildings. Barricades of tyres have been built around the city hall, which flies the flag of the Donetsk People's Republic. Banners draped outside proclaim "No to Fascism" and "No to the EU". Another banner reads "Russia+Donbass=heart".

At the barricade, Vladimir Pakhomovich, a former miner, said: "We are not Moscow or Kiev. They do not command us. We are just here to defend our people. Until we get a referendum, we do not intend to leave."

Pakhomovich said he was aware of the agreement made in Geneva but said he did not feel beholden to Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, or president, Vladimir Putin. "We are prepared to ignore Lavrov. Why should we listen to him?" he said.

As Reuters notes, enacting the deal brokered in Geneva is easier said than done, "because of the deep mistrust between the pro-Russian groups and the Western-backed government in Kiev." Violent clashes between separatists and militants loyal to Kiev, the news agency reminds readers, have already seen several people killed this week.

Denis Pushilin, a separatist leader of a group that seized government buildings in Donetsk nearly two weeks ago, told journalists that he and his followers have no intention to leave their fortifications until the Kiev government steps down or an agreeable referendum on independence is granted.

Russia “did not sign anything for us {in Geneva]," said Mr. Pushilin, according to the New York Times.

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