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Kerry: Steps Embraced to Ease Tensions in Ukraine

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Courtesy:, Reuters Courtesy:, Reuters

Secretary of State John Kerry says diplomats from Russia, the United States, the European Union and Ukraine have agreed on a series of steps aimed at de-escalating violence in strife-ridden Ukraine.
He said all of this "represents a good day's work." But Kerry also says "words on paper" will have little meaning if they are not followed by actions on all sides to calm the situation in the former Soviet republic.
Kerry tells a news conference "we fully expect the Russians" to demonstrate they are serious about lowering tensions. He says "no more incidents of this kind should occur." And the secretary adds that he's told his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that if no improvement is seen, "We will have no choice but to impose" increasing sanctions against Russia.

President Barack Obama says he hopes Russia lives up to its agreement with Ukraine but adds that Russia's previous actions give him concern.
Obama says his hope is that Russia will follow through in the next several days on promises made at its meeting Thursday in Geneva. The meeting was an attempt to find a way to reduce tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
Obama said Thursday the U.S. and its European allies will remain prepared to respond to efforts by Russia to interfere in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that amnesty will be given to pro-Russian protesters who participated in an uprising against the government in Kiev, except those found guilty of capital crimes.
The tentative agreement could put on hold -- for now at least -- economic sanctions the West had prepared to impose on Russia if the talks were fruitless. And that would ease international pressure both on Moscow and nervous European Union nations that depend on Russia for their energy.  (AP)

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