Pro-Russian Rebels Soften Stance on Demand for Independence
Pro-Russian rebels have softened their demand for full independence, saying they would respect Ukraine's sovereignty in exchange for autonomy, a shift that reflects Moscow's desire to strike a deal at a new round of peace talks.
The insurgents' platform, released at the start of yesterday's negotiations in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, represented a significant change in their vision for the future of Ukraine's eastern, mainly Russian-speaking region.
It remains unclear, however, whether the talks can reach a compromise amid the brutal fighting that has continued in eastern Ukraine.
Yesterday, the rebels pushed Ukrainian government forces from an airport near Luhansk, the second-largest rebel-held city, the latest in a series of military gains.
The peace talks in Minsk follow last week's meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko.
The negotiations involve former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma; Russia's ambassador to Ukraine; an envoy from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and representatives of the rebels.
Yet similar talks earlier this summer produced no visible results.
Unlike the previous rounds, this time rebels said in a statement carried by Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency that they are willing to discuss "the preservation of the united economic, cultural and political space of Ukraine."
In return, they demanded a comprehensive amnesty and broad local powers that would include being able to appoint their own local law enforcement officials.
This deal is only for eastern Ukraine. There are no negotiations on handing back Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed in March, a move that cost Ukraine several major ports, half its coastline and untold billions in Black Sea oil and mineral rights.
The talks lasted for several hours yesterday and were adjourned until Friday, when the parties are to discuss a cease-fire and an exchange of prisoners, rebel negotiator Andrei Purgin said, according to RIA Novosti.
The rebels' more moderate negotiating platform appeared to reflect Putin's desire to make a deal that would allow Russia to avoid more punitive Western sanctions while preserving a significant degree of leverage over its neighbour.
Over the weekend, the European Union leaders agreed to prepare a new round of sanctions that could be enacted in a week, after NATO accused Russia of sending tanks and troops into southeastern Ukraine.
A NATO summit in Wales on Thursday is also expected to approve measures designed to counter Russia's aggressive actions in Ukraine.
FROM OUTLOOKForeign AffairsIndia has to take stock of its diminishing role in institutions like NAM and the UN...more from outlook>>>
FROM THE WEBOpinionState visits by Indian Presidents to a foreign lanmore from WEB>>>
FROM WIRESNew Delhi, Feb 16 Britain today suggested that Indmore from WIRES>>>
- Indian Origin Punjabi Bus Driver Burnt to Death in Australia
- SC Dismisses Petition, Says Armed Forces Answerable To Government
- Fifteen Pakistan Rangers Killed In BSF's Retaliatory Fire In The Past Week
- Judges Selection: SC Slams Centre for Bringing Courts to a Grinding Halt
- US Charges 61 People in Multi-Million Dollar Indian Call Center Scam
- Pak Violates Ceasefire Along LoC in Jammu, Rajouri, Kathua, Girl Injured
- Daily Curator: While India Plays Spy-Spy With Pakistan, China Issues Gentle Reminder
- Watch: Donald Trump Pulls Out All The Stops With 'Ab Ki Baar, Trump Sarkar'
- Daily Curator: What Happens In Family May Not Stay So
- Neeraj Pandey's Ouch Takes on the Complexities of a Relationship
- Watch: Svetlana Kuznetsova Snips Her Hair And Bosses The Match
- Daily Curator: After Board Says Tata to Cyrus, Bombay HC May Have a Case to Hear
- India Third in Terror Deaths After ISIS-Boko Haram Areas: SC Told
- War No Option, Pak Should Take Initiative for Peace: Mehbooba
- Pak Army Says No Soldiers Killed in Firing at Border
- DND Flyway onnecting Noida to Delhi to Remain Toll Free: SC
- Swamy Asks PM to Form Multi-Agency SIT to Probe Tatas
- Northern Ireland Rejects Brexit Court Challenge
- MOST VIEWED
- MOST COMMENTED