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Besides having been a hastily put together a patchwork of various anti-Yanukovich factions, the interim Ukrainian government has a lot of fires to put out right away, to even try to come up with a coherent and comprehensive program of reforms, which are long overdue. The recent price hikes on natural gas by Gazprom, accompanied by hints that Russia may look elsewhere to replace imports from Ukraine, don't help either. At the end of the day, this hurts the industrialized East much more than the rest of Ukraine. So it shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody that those regions are far less willing to go along with the European vector in nation's policy. On top of this, mixed signals coming out of Kiev, don't encourage decisiveness and accountability by local administrations, which explains why pro-Russian protesters were able to relatively easy take control of multiple cities in the East. I have little doubt that Russia's footprints are all over there, but so far, Russians have managed to keep a low profile.

Use of military force to quell protests shows how desperate the authorities in Kiev are. Army is too blunt of a tool to resolve political discourses, and very inefficient in urban areas, unless the government is prepared to kill scores of civilians and can expect the military to carry out orders without questioning. Russia learnt this lesson the hard way in Chechnya.

Where will the crisis go from here? I'm afraid making any forecast in this situation is virtually impossible. There are too many moving parts in it. But without dialogue between the government and leaders of the protesters, and the West keeping the pressure of further sanctions on Russia, the likelihood of Eastern provinces peeling off looks pretty high to me.

by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Sun May 4th, 2014 at 01:42:46 PM EST
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