On 20 May, the Ukrainian parliament, Verkhovna Rada, passed and ratified the ‘Memorandum of Peace and Consent’ with a majority of 26 votes.
The memorandum aims at restoring law and order in the country and stop the bloodshed, through the withdrawal of the army to their permanent bases, and at bringing to justice those responsible for killing civilians during mass protests.
It dropped the criminal charges against protest activists as well as the provision to grant amnesty to self-defence forces in the East.
The memorandum introduced constitutional reform that would lead to more autonomy for regions. It is likely this was in response to two Eastern regions holding referendums and opting for independence on the 11 May.
It retained the state language as Ukrainian but committed to guaranteeing the rights of minority languages, particularly Russian. Finally, it declared that Ukraine may only join a political or economic inter-state union through a nationwide referendum.
The Russian response to this memorandum is crucial for the tensions. Grigory Karasin, Russian Foreign Minister, acquainted his ministry with the Memorandum claiming that if Ukraine implements all of the reforms then it will finally be responding to the Moscow’s call for the de-escalation of the conflict.
Karasin also claimed this Memorandum would be the first step towards realizing and adhering to the 17 April 2014 Geneva agreements and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which Russia had been pushing for since signing the agreement.
The agreement urged national dialogue on constitutional reform and ending violence, extremism and provocations.
The Memorandum shows an urge by the Ukrainian government the try and ease tensions and adhere to this agreement that Ukrainian diplomats have signed.
In response to the advent of dialogue between Ukraine and the Eastern rebels, Putin ordered the withdrawal of troops from the Russia-Ukrainian borders.
So far, no troops have been moved according to the White House. However, it has only been a few days since Putin instructed his Defence Minister to organise the withdrawal so it is too early to question both his motives and whether it will actually occur as the US and the EU have already started doing.
Ukrainian Presidential election, are scheduled for 25 May, a date set in February by the regime change in the Verkhovna Rada who stripped President Yanukovych of his powers and amended the constitution.
Given the clashes between federalists and nationalists in the South and the East of Ukraine the result will be interesting.