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Eastern Ukraine: increasing tension and power struggles

April 8, 2014

Donetsk-Ukraine-map

Summary: possible increasing tensions in eastern Ukraine – pro Russian crowds are attempting to declare a “Peoples Republic of Donetsk”.  Ukrainian government in emergency session.  Not clear if this is Putin-driven or genuine (but over-ambitious) locals getting ahead of themselves…

Always difficult to tell the difference between genuine social protest and cynical stage-management with the intention of annexing someone’s country these days.  Some interesting/concerning reporting coming in from the Eastern Ukraine – suggestions that someone is attempting to generate support for an independence movement and secession, including calls for a referendum, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.

BBC News: Pro-Russian protesters who seized the regional government building in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk are reported to have declared a “people’s republic”.  The rebels have called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine by 11 May.  Ukrainian security officials are being sent to the eastern cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv after pro-Russia groups occupied government buildings.  Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov called the unrest an attempt by Russia to “dismember” Ukraine.

Also:

Ukraine’s Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk lashes out at Russia for stoking unrest in the east as pro-Russia protestors occupy government buildings in Donetsk and declare the region a sovereign “people’s republic” independent of Kiev.  Hundreds of pro-Russia demonstrators who took over government buildings in Donetsk on Monday and who have called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to send troops to their aid are declaring the eastern region a “people’s republic” that is independent of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

The announcement, posted in a video on YouTube, was also delivered outside a building being occupied by protestors, the Guardian reports. “Seeking to create a popular, legitimate, sovereign state, I proclaim the creation for the sovereign state of the People’s Republic of Donetsk,” a spokesperson for the protestors told the crowd.

1023px-Flag_of_Donetsk_Oblast.svgThis looks to be a smaller “budget” version of the Crimean takeover, with the new rule book being followed and appeals being sent out to Putin for assistance.  As a great example of how propaganda can now be employed, there is a highly contested entry for the “Donetsk People’s Republic” already up on Wikipedia – check it out before it gets deleted – alternately watch it expand, depending on who wins control over the narrarative – the entry has already doubled in size from when I looked at it a few hours ago…

Are we seeing the precursor for a new move on the Russo-Ukraine chessboard?  I have lost track slightly of the story “Russian army still deployed on the eastern border with Ukraine” for a few days now, but I think it safe to assume that the Russians still possess the military capability to move swiftly into the eastern Ukraine, more or less at will, although Ukrainian armed military resistance becomes more of a likelihood if this does happen.  A confrontation between the armed forces of both would be very bad.  Lets face it, (and judging by Afghan, Chechen and Georgian precedents), the Russian army is probably a much less brutal, confused and indiscriminate bludgeon when it doesn’t actually have to fight to take and hold ground…

In addition, it seems a Russian soldier shot dead a Ukrainian officer in the Crimea

 

 

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