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Signs Of Optimisim On Ukraine After Obama, Merkel Meet In Washington

President Obama said Monday Russian aggression against Ukraine has reinforced the unity of the U.S. and its partners in Europe and around the world.

Obama spoke at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He says if Russia continues on its current course, its political and economic isolation will worsen.

“They seem to be on the same page, but underlining that is some tension that Germany, France and some of the other European partners have very much been pushing for more diplomatic means, and really trying to exhaust all diplomatic purposes, whereas the United States has on the table right now the option of providing lethal weapons to the Ukrainian government in the hopes that they would push the separatists and Russians out,” says Rebecca Cruise, the assistant dean of the University of Oklahoma College of International Studies and a regular panelist on KGOU’s World Views.

Cruise says before Merkel came to Washington, she met with French President François Hollande and Russian officials in Moscow to formulate Thursday’s peace plan that goes into effect Sunday. It includes a ceasefire, financial incentives to help rebuild Ukraine, and a so-called “buffer zone” to get rid of some of the larger weapons.

“We've of course seen these plans before, but having these European partners involved, having Putin and his team involved as well as the Ukrainian president seems to suggest, that hopefully, just maybe, this will be successful,” Cruise says. “The suggestion is that [territory in eastern Ukraine captured by Russia] would have some sense of autonomy, that they would be included then in the redrafting of a new Ukrainian constitution. They would perhaps still be within Ukraine, but would get to determine what that constitution would look like.”

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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