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With pro-Russian separatists refusing to leave captured buildings in eastern Ukraine on Friday, it is already clear that Thursday’s Geneva agreement has done little to reduce tensions on the ground – or the threat of a Russian invasion.
That the US, EU, Russia and Ukraine managed to agree on any document and concrete steps at all in Geneva was positive and unexpected. But some of those steps are already proving difficult to implement and provide no guarantee the situation in eastern Ukraine could not escalate further.
Most importantly, there was no commitment by Russia to pull back the tens of thousands of troops it has massed on Ukraine’s border, which Washington and Brussels have both been pressing for.
By Jurek Martin
The formal obituaries of Shijuro Ogata, the former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan who has died at the age of 86, will take due note of his policy making roles over a long career, invariably executed with acumen. They will also record that, as he frequently said with affection, he was hardly the most famous Ogata in his own household – his wife, Sadako, was the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for a decade and holder of more than one Japanese government humanitarian portfolio.
What is less well known is the extent to which he was single-handedly responsible for opening up the previously closed Japanese bureaucracy to the western media – and all through the device of a tea party of his own mischievous creation.Read more
Judging from Moscow’s dark warnings over the threat of civil war in Ukraine, and its war of words with the west over the crisis engulfing its neighbour, one would assume that president Vladimir Putin would be under considerable stress.
But on Thursday, the Russian leader was on top form. In the marathon televised question-and-answer session in which he holds court once a year, Mr Putin appeared at ease, well prepared, and, most importantly, very satisfied with what he has recently achieved.Read more