Russia Ukraine Conflict: Russia Applauds Ukrainian Decision on Rebel-Held Regions
In a rare bit of cordiality between the two opposing nations, Russia said Ukraine took a "step in the right direction" by giving special status to two regions held by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian parliament on Wednesday passed laws that granted limited and temporary autonomy to the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in an attempt to quell the fighting between the separatists and Ukrainian forces, according to a report from Reuters.
"We expect that all provisions of the law will be responsibly implemented," the parliament said in a statement. "It's clear that attempts ... to revoke it or change its essence would again throw the situation towards a confrontation, undermine efforts to normalize the situation by international community and sensible politicians in the country."
In what was seen by Ukrainian citizens as caving to Russian pressure, the parliament also voted to delay the start of a free-trade pact with the European Union until the end of next year.
Russia has voiced strong opposition with Ukrainian involvement with the E.U., as the Kremlin wishes to keep its western neighbor in Russia's sphere of influence.
"We expect that the forthcoming period will be used to settle in a legally binding way all Russian concerns by correcting the (EU-Ukraine) association agreement to safeguard bilateral economic relations (between Kiev and Moscow)," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The Foreign Ministry added that Russia hoped the decision to delay the start of the free-trade pact would be honored, saying that Russia would be justified in retaliating if it was not. Ukrainian officials later said that Russia's concern of a renege on the delay were "groundless."
Ukraine delaying the E.U. trade pact and granting semi-autonomy to the two eastern regions comes in the midst of a shaky ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and the separatists, Time reported.
Human Rights Watch has said that more than 2,000 people have been killed and more than 3,000 injured in the conflict.
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