U.S. praises Ukraine deal; calls for concrete action

Published: Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 3:51 p.m.CDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Friday praised an agreement between Ukraine's president and the opposition to end violence and said it should be implemented immediately.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the deal was consistent with what Washington was advocating, but added that the U.S. will closely monitor whether there is concrete action to implement it. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin also discussed the agreement, which is aimed at ending the months-long standoff fueled by public anger that Ukraine was abandoning closer ties with Europe in favor of a deal with longtime ruler Russia.

The White House had been considering levying sanctions on officials in Ukraine who were responsible for stoking the violence, but Carney indicated that the U.S. would hold off while monitoring the implementation of Friday's accord.

"Our focus today is on working with our European partners as well as the government and the opposition in Ukraine to ensure the agreement's implementation," Carney said. "We are not ruling out sanctions to hold those responsible for the violence accountable, especially should there be further violence or violation of the agreement."

Friday's agreement restores a previous constitution that limits presidential powers. Ukraine's parliament also voted to give the protesters amnesty.

At the Pentagon, military officials were trying to arrange a phone call for later in the day between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Ukrainian counterpart. The Pentagon said Thursday that the ministry of defense in Kiev was not accepting Hagel's calls, but on Friday military officials received word through U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the NATO commander in Europe, that Ukrainian Minister of Defense Pavlo Lebedyev wanted to talk.

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