Ukraine PM accuses Russia of destabilizing eastern provinces

posted at 8:41 am on April 7, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

In Crimea, Russia used its military and local Russian-speaking Ukrainians to seize government buildings and demand autonomy, followed by a return to Russia. In the past 24 hours, Russia has apparently employed the same strategy in eastern Ukraine. Large crowds seized government buildings in Donetsk, with similar rallies taking place in Lugansk and Kharkiv, and demands for a referendum on sovereignty immediately followed:

Activists chanting “Russia!” broke through police lines Sunday and stormed several government buildings in eastern Ukrainian regions seeking independence from Kiev following last month’s fall of a Kremlin regime.

Clashes in Donetsk and similar rallies in the heavily Russified cities such of Lugansk and Kharkiv provided another reminder to the untested pro-Western leaders in Kiev of the monumental task facing them after their February 22 overthrow of president Viktor Yanukovych. …

Several eastern regions now want to stage referendums on joining Kremlin rule when Ukraine holds snap presidential polls on May 25. Both election frontrunners want to tie the vast country’s future to Europe and break its historic dependence on Russia.

The day’s most violent protest saw nearly 100 activists move away from a crowd of 2,000 rallying on the main city square of Donetsk to storm and occupy the government seat where they raised the Russian flag.

They threw firecrackers at about 200 riot police and ripped away several of their shields before raising the Russian flag above the 11-story building.

Ukraine PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Vladimir Putin of deliberately using unrest as a provocation and an excuse for more military intervention:

Speaking at an emergency Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Russia was behind seizures of several government buildings in eastern regions that have for weeks seen a spike in secessionist sentiment.

“The plan is to destabilize the situation, the plan is for foreign troops to cross the border and seize the country’s territory, which we will not allow,” he said, adding that people engaged in the unrest have distinct Russian accents.

Yatsenyuk said Russian troops remain stationed within 19 miles of the frontier.

The problem for Yatsenyuk is that he can’t afford a military confrontation, which leaves his hands tied to a large extent in the eastern provinces. First, what forces he does have need to fortify the border rather than impose order in Donetsk and Lugansk. Even more to the point, the use of the military to suppress the Russian-speaking population would give Putin exactly the pretense he wants to send his far more powerful military into eastern Ukraine to protect the oppressed Russian minority.

Yatsenyuk is between a rock and a hard place here, and he knows it. He can’t afford to provoke Putin, but he’s on the verge of a civil war if he does nothing. He has to hope that the police can put down the unrest by themselves … and that they don’t switch sides, as those in the West did against Yanukovich in the unrest that brought Yatsenyuk to power in the first place.

Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reports this morning that a council of a “recently proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic” has just asked for Russian “peacekeepers” to be deployed in Donetsk. Any guesses how long it will take for Putin to recognize this new “republic” and save them from the Ukrainians?


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Wow flash backs to 1938.

Johnnyreb on April 7, 2014 at 8:46 AM

I notice there is no longer a pretense of considering what the American response might be.

Fenris on April 7, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Kerry and Obama preparing red lines not to cross.

albill on April 7, 2014 at 8:49 AM

I notice there is no longer a pretense of considering what the American response might be.

Fenris on April 7, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Strongly Worded Letters lack the respect that rolling Tank Divisions have.

ConstantineXI on April 7, 2014 at 8:52 AM

Kerry and Obama preparing red lines not to cross.

albill on April 7, 2014 at 8:49 AM

A couple of days after Putin sent in troops to Crimea, Kerry said Russia was there to help Ukraine stave off economic collapse. Obama will wait until it’s a fait accompli before declaring any red lines.

Fenris on April 7, 2014 at 8:53 AM

Strongly Worded Letters lack the respect that rolling Tank Divisions have.

ConstantineXI on April 7, 2014 at 8:52 AM

We are short of Armored Divisions right now, sorry. Got to cut something to pay for all of that *free* Health Insurance the Fed is passing out.

Johnnyreb on April 7, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Wow flash backs to 1938.

Johnnyreb on April 7, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Just let Putin have the Sudetenland and we shall have Peace In Our Time.

ConstantineXI on April 7, 2014 at 8:55 AM

We are short of Armored Divisions right now, sorry. Got to cut something to pay for all of that *free* Health Insurance the Fed is passing out.
Johnnyreb on April 7, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Our armored divisions are too busy doing muslim outreach.

ConstantineXI on April 7, 2014 at 8:58 AM

Putin wants a partition of the Ukraine and Merkel will likely give it to him.

The Chinese need the wheat farms they leased and paid for and those are in the middle of Ukraine towards the friendlier southeasterly region on both sides of the Dnieper.

workingclass artist on April 7, 2014 at 8:59 AM

Our armored divisions are too busy doing muslim outreach.

ConstantineXI on April 7, 2014 at 8:58 AM

I thought that was NASA? The army’s mission statement all about gay marriage these days. Well, I guess they can do more than one thing at a time.

Fenris on April 7, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Just let Putin have the Sudetenland and we shall have Peace In Our Time.

ConstantineXI on April 7, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Putin can take anything he wants and no one will stop him and he knows that. He has Europe on a leash because of their stupid energy policy. Germany and France are terrified that he might turn off the lights so they wont do anything to annoy him lest he triple the price of Gas and Oil they are forced to buy from him.

He knows Obama is weak and helpless and wont lift a finger other than to make some speeches about growing up and joining the 21st Century.

We are closer to 1938 than most people think. I predict Putin will not stop with just East Ukraine.

Johnnyreb on April 7, 2014 at 9:06 AM

many people told me I was wrong when I said they would move on ukraine.
wish I was wrong.
gonna get worse.

dmacleo on April 7, 2014 at 9:11 AM

To paraphrase James Petigru, Ukraine seems too disorganized to be a country and too big to be an insane asylum.

claudius on April 7, 2014 at 9:23 AM

I am going to assume that if Russia does invade, NATO (No Action, Talk Only) will still do nothing.

BigGator5 on April 7, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Ex-German PM Gerhard Schröder is on the board of directors of Gazprom and is good pals with Putler. This is Europe’s energy policy.

Krupnikas on April 7, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Once Putin has taken Eastern Ukraine, the Baltic states and has extended Russia’s western borders to his heart’s content, he can thank The One for his “flexibility’ and give Him the OK to declare, “Peace in our time”…

vnvet on April 7, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Putin could drive his troops to ► Paris ◄ and the only time they would get stopped is by the border guards into the first EU country they enter asking if they had more than €10,000 on them and more than two cartons of cigarettes.

albill on April 7, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Putin may well have been truthful when he said he has no plans to invade eastern Ukraine. He means to de-stabilize the local governments, foment civil unrest, and then respond to “invitations” to “rescue” Russian nationals and Russia-friendly elements.

See? No invasion. He will “rescue” eastern Ukraine. From western Ukraine.

Obama and Kerry will adopt this same argument after the fact to avoid admitting they are morons who have squandered American power and influence to the point of helplessness.

novaculus on April 7, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Does any NATO country even have any troops in defensive positions?
The few Americans in Germany have mostly been moved west of the Rhine river, closer to France than Berlin.

The new Defense Secretary for Germany has been more interested in getting day care for the few troops remaining and opening more military jobs for woman.

albill on April 7, 2014 at 10:49 AM

The Russification of Ukrain began in ernest with Stalin’s war on the Kulacks, indedendent farmers, in 1929.

ALL QUOTES FROM WIKIPEDIA

The “liquidation of the kulaks as a class” was announced by Joseph Stalin on 27 December 1929.

A combination of dekulakization, collectivization, and other repressive policies led to mass starvation in many parts of the Soviet Union and the death of at least 14.5 million peasants in 1930–1937, including five million who died in Ukraine…

burt on April 7, 2014 at 11:11 AM

…Smart Power!

KOOLAID2 on April 7, 2014 at 1:14 PM

If destabilizing means restoring control to the majority ethnic Russians in Crimea then I say that may be a good thing.

jake49 on April 7, 2014 at 1:34 PM