Valerie Bunce, a professor of International Studies and Government at Cornell University, is an expert on politics, international relations and conflict in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states. She welcomes today’s announcement that Russian troops are pulling back from the Ukrainian border, but calls on Russia, the EU, the United States and Ukraine to create the real conditions for lasting peace.

Bunce says:

“The once poor prospects for the ceasefire and therefore free and fair elections have recently improved as a result of Putin's decisions to pull back Russian troops from the border of Ukraine and to discourage the separatists from their plans to hold a referendum on independence this Sunday.

“By violating the sovereignty of Ukraine as a result of his annexation of Crimea, Vladimir Putin has not just violated treaties that guaranteed the independence of Ukraine and committed an act of war against his neighbor, he has also laid the groundwork for civil war in Ukraine.

“Whether the war remains focused on the southeast of Ukraine or spreads depends upon the ability of four players – the Ukrainian government, the EU, the United States and Russia – to construct a ceasefire that is a necessary condition for free and fair elections; and thereafter an inclusive process that reconsiders the design of political institutions in Ukraine, including the rights and responsibilities of the center and localities.”

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