Apr 17, 2014

By Michael Kramer

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Diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, the U.S. and the EU issued a joint statement today on the crisis in Ukraine.

They are calling for all illegal armed groups to be disarmed, all illegally seized buildings to be returned to their owners, and for all occupied public spaces to be vacated.

The statement says “Amnesty will be granted to protesters and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters after an emergency meeting in Geneva that what’s important now – is that these words are translated into action.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also stressed the need for Russian speakers in Ukraine – to be protected from discrimination.

The statement also said that officials agreed the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most – beginning in the coming days.

The U.S., E.U. and Russia have committed to support this mission, including by providing special monitors.

Meanwhile – Canada is sending six CF-18 jet fighters to a NATO air-policing mission in response to the crisis in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Harper says the deployment isn’t just about Ukraine, but the broader context of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s apparent goal of expanding his country’s reach.

The jets and ground support staff will be based in Poland and the military is also sending up to 20 staff officers – to bolster the Canadian presence at NATO headquarters in Brussels – as the Alliance organizes a further response.

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