Black Clouds Over East UkraineThe Donetsk People's Republic's Denis Pushilin has reiterated that his 'authority' will not give recognition to Ukraine's interim government; it is illegitimate. Occupation of government buildings and surrender of arms will not take place if he has anything to say about it. And he has, plenty. His counter-demand is that Ukrainian leaders leave their own public buildings.
Speaking at the insurgent-occupied regional headquarters in Donetsk, he felt entitled to insist that "everyone should vacate the (government) buildings", including Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleksandr Turchynov, acting Ukrainian prime minister and president. Mr. Pushilin sneers at the prospect of the scheduled May 5 presidential election, calling instead for a referendum on self-government for the region by May 11.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe had been repeatedly blocked from visiting Crimea, sent there at Ukraine's request, but pro-Russian units firing warning shots refused them entry to be able to report what was occurring between March 5 and 20. They did, however manage to report that the units included regular Russian military troops.
And their plan now is to send election monitors to Ukraine before the May 25 election, to enable the reporting of any irregularities that may take place during the presidential vote. A report is soon to be issued on its findings after an OSCE rights mission met with officials and Russian and Ukrainian minority communities, and that should be of huge interest both within and outside Ukraine.
As for Mr. Pushiulin's group, it has no intention whatever of handing over their weapons. On second thought they might consider it as soon as the spurious government of Ukraine puts a stop to its illegal efforts to reclaim the occupied buildings. Diplomatic accord be damned, it has nothing to do with them. He has obviously taken his cue from Russian military intelligence and special forces. Who were wearing camouflage without insignia, and quite present in Ukraine, but invisible to the naked eye.
Theirs was and remains the vital task of supplying the insurgents comprised of local thugs and volunteers, criminal sociopaths, and those who have been persuaded by the emotions of nationalism, ethnic division and sectarian suspicions that east and south Ukraine are not truly meant to be part of Ukraine, but remain, heart and soul, part of Russia. And if the increasingly involved Cossacks have anything to say about it, part of Russia they will be.
The issues are clear enough, the methodology elastic enough to use any fortuitous opportunities that arise, from destabilizing the country's tentative provisional government to provoking an economic crisis (both of which have been well underway, and need no especial push and shove from the Kremlin) to provoking the dreaded civil war or a credible facsimile thereof, to achieve the goal of destabilizing Ukraine beyond rescue. And in the process improving Russia's geographic holdings.
The sheer cost of all of this, balancing Crimea's needs for investment while Russia itself is undergoing an economic recession which the lavish $50-billion Sochi Games did nothing to aid, and everything to help it continue faltering, appears not quite to have occurred to the brilliant, conquering minds in the Kremlin. And 'authorities' like the Donetsk People's Republic, enabled to transform into a paramilitary force is really feeling its oats; nothing can now vanquish their spirit of secession.
The Internet has been busy as a clearing house for revelatory visions of "pro-Russian activists" holding aloft Russian-produced RPGs, along with audio clips of Russians barking authoritative orders, more or less giving the lie to Moscow's coy denials of provocation. "Moscow is not interested in destabilizing Ukraine" insists the Russian foreign minister, while Vladimir Putin calls on the United Nations to condemn Ukraine's military response to attacks against its symbols and its troops.
Russian media closely scrutinized by people in eastern Ukraine denounces violence that has never occurred but which comes from "fascist Kyiv". And Moldova, Poland and the Baltic States shiver in anticipation of who may be next on the revived Russian imperialist agenda.