Russia to Ukraine: Any military action to reclaim gov’t buildings will lead to “civil war”

posted at 10:41 am on April 8, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Is this helpful advice, or a warning? Take three guesses — and the first two don’t count. As Ukraine’s government prepared to take back buildings seized by pro-Russian protesters in Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Luhansk, Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned that any use of the military by Ukraine would start a “civil war”:

Russia warned Tuesday that any use of force in Ukraine’s eastern region could lead to civil war, as Kiev seeks to regain control after pro-Moscow uprisings in three cities.

Pro-Russian protesters seized government buildings in the three cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv on Sunday. Rebels occupying Donetsk’s regional government building Monday declared a “people’s republic” and called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine to be held by May 11.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said reports that the protesters are facing a crackdown by Ukrainian authorities are of particular concern.

“We are calling for the immediate cessation of any military preparations, which could lead to civil war,” it said in a statement on its official website.

Russia also blamed the unrest in Ukraine on “American experts from the private military organization Greystone,” supposedly disguised as Ukrainians. That is, of course, exactly what Russia did in stirring up unrest and seizing buildings in Crimea before holding a ridiculous plebiscite under occupation as a pretext for annexing the peninsula to the Russian Federation. Consider this a blend of paranoia and projection.

Speaking of pretexts, the demonstrators very clearly want to provide one for Moscow:

Under the attentive eye of Russian state television, several hundred pro-Russian demonstrators in the city of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, declared on Monday that they were forming an independent republic and urged President Vladimir V. Putin to send troops to the region as a peacekeeping force, even though there was no imminent threat to peace.

The actions in Donetsk and two other main cities in eastern Ukraine, which included demands for a referendum on seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia, seemed an effort by the activists to mimic some of the events that preceded Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea. However, there were no immediate indications that the Kremlin was receptive to the pleas.

Yet, anyway. The buildup of military forces has gone on for weeks now, so there won’t be much time to spot signals that the Kremlin is “receptive” to the idea before they act on it. And even that depends on the New York Times’ framing of the demonstrations as independent of the Kremlin in the first place, which certainly wasn’t the case in Crimea, and probably isn’t in eastern Ukraine either.

Kyiv managed to wrest control of the Kharkiv building away from demonstrators earlier today, and so far Russia hasn’t reacted. It took only 18 minutes to complete the assault, hardly time for Moscow to react, and perhaps they’re not quite as anxious to go to actual war as they were to get Crimea for free. On the other hand, the parliament in Kyiv gave a pretty good depiction of a nation torn asunder in this crisis today after communists voiced support for the pro-Russian protests:

Deputies in the Ukrainian parliament brawled in the chamber on Tuesday after a communist leader accused nationalists of playing into the hands of Russia by adopting extreme tactics early in the Ukrainian crisis.

Two deputies from the Svoboda far-right nationalist party took exception to the charges by communist Petro Symonenko and seized him while he was talking from the rostrum.

His party supporters rallied to his defense and a brawl broke out with deputies from other parties joining in and trading punches.

Symonenko stirred nationalist anger when, referring to pro-Russian protesters who seized buildings in eastern Ukraine, he said nationalists had set a precedent earlier this year by seizing public buildings in protest at the rule of ousted President Viktor Yanukovich.

Now, he said, armed groups were attacking people who wanted to defend their rights by peaceful means.

“You are today doing everything to intimidate people. You arrest people, start fighting people who have a different point of view,” he said, before being pulled away from the rostrum by the Svoboda deputies.

The civil war may come regardless of whether Moscow crosses into Ukraine or not — but you can bet that if it does, Moscow won’t tarry long on the other side of that border.


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Uh, oh. Time for Obama to break out both the red pen AND the red phone!

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:43 AM

“You are today doing everything to intimidate people. You arrest people, start fighting people who have a different point of view,” he said, before being pulled away from the rostrum by the Svoboda deputies.

Huh…where else is that going on?

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Ukrainians are not wimps. Russians know this from WW2. Thus, they are unlikely to start a shooting war although they’re probably content to munch popcorn while watching one.

platypus on April 8, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Are the young children in the Regime and MSM still calling this the “Crimean Crisis”?

forest on April 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Obama is tooooo busy with a civil rights meeting in Texas or something.

Oil Can on April 8, 2014 at 10:50 AM

I crane, you crane, we all crane for Ukraine!

DethMetalCookieMonst on April 8, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Under the attentive eye of Mexican state television, several hundred pro-Mexican demonstrators in the city of El Paso, in western Texas, declared on Monday that they were forming an independent republic and urged President Enrique Peña Nieto to send troops to the region as a peacekeeping force, even though there was no imminent threat to peace. US President Obama said in a statement earlier today that he respects the Democratic will of the people of El Paso, and will commit all of the troops from nearby Ft. Bliss to help with the peacekeeping efforts.

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Where is King Obama, on the golf course? I am sure he will learn about this from some news reports later this week.

SC.Charlie on April 8, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Wow….shades of the Cold War part deux…

And just in time for the Obama made to waltz out the door when this counterpart REALLY kicks into high gear.

BlaxPac on April 8, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Russia’s Ace in the Hole: a Super-Missile It Can Sell to Iran

It’s Washington’s nightmare scenario: an aggressive Moscow deciding it’s time to arm Tehran with sophisticated weapons. And it may be closer to reality than you think.

Resist We Much on April 8, 2014 at 10:59 AM

A clever tactic for the Ukraine government would be to cut off all utilities to the building controlled by Russians and see if they can disrupt cell phone service also. The protesters will give up in three or four days.

thuja on April 8, 2014 at 11:01 AM

I believe that the foreign policy question to be asked here is what is the U.S. national interest in Ukraine?

Personally, I don’t see one and think that we should sit this one out.

Special Forces Grunt on April 8, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Dear President Obama & Prime Minister Yanukovych:

This is what happens when you appease bullies.

kthxbai,

The Lessons of History

Robert_Paulson on April 8, 2014 at 11:08 AM

The Ukrainians need to spill a little Russian blood. The worst thing for Putin is all out war. Bully’s like to bully, not fight.

Tater Salad on April 8, 2014 at 11:12 AM

This isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Russia is making waves about “protecting Russians” in other countries. Estonia and Poland are next! Obama will be the one who will be partly responsible for the emergence of the new USSR.

melle1228 on April 8, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Why can’t our legislative branch have more fistfights?

Madcap_Magician on April 8, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Just GIVE Putin the Sudetenland already, so we can have Peace In Our Time.

ConstantineXI on April 8, 2014 at 11:19 AM

This isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Russia is making waves about “protecting Russians” in other countries. Estonia and Poland are next! Obama will be the one who will be partly responsible for the emergence of the new USSR.

melle1228 on April 8, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Not Poland. Poland remembers history. Poland has tanks.

thuja on April 8, 2014 at 11:21 AM

Dear President Obama & Prime Minister Yanukovych:

This is what happens when you appease bullies.

kthxbai,

The Lessons of History

Robert_Paulson on April 8, 2014 at 11:08 AM

There are different kinds of bullies.

Obama is the type that wets his panties when confronted.

Putin is the type that responds with tanks.

ConstantineXI on April 8, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Just GIVE Putin the Sudetenland already, so we can have Peace In Our Time.

ConstantineXI on April 8, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Putin just wants Piece! A piece of Ukraine, Estonia, Belarus…..

Oil Can on April 8, 2014 at 11:23 AM

A clever tactic for the Ukraine government would be to cut off all utilities to the building controlled by Russians and see if they can disrupt cell phone service also. The protesters will give up in three or four days.

thuja on April 8, 2014 at 11:01 AM

They have no clever tactics that they can use. Russia has done a perfect job of setting up all the pieces on the chess board where they want them and then asking the Ukraine to sit down and play a game.

The most that the Ukrainians can do is wait until the Russians finally swarm over the eastern boarder and then sacrifice themselves in a few days worth of battles.

While Obama and the rest of the west were worried about climate change and wind farms, the Russians have been going on doing what they normally do.

Walter L. Newton on April 8, 2014 at 11:25 AM

Not Poland. Poland remembers history. Poland has tanks.

thuja on April 8, 2014 at 11:21 AM

I think Putin is riding high on a wave of power. I believe that war is coming in that part of the world faster than any of us think.

melle1228 on April 8, 2014 at 11:27 AM

The junta controlling Ukraine for now is virulently anti-Russian, including ethnic Russian Ukrainians. That’s why Russians in Crimea, whose democratic rights had been negated by the violent coup in Kiev, voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia.

Of course Russia is hostile to the junta, but that anti-democratic government could never assure civil peace anyway, because it is rule by corrupt oligarchs and also at war with half the country.

David Blue on April 8, 2014 at 11:33 AM

“violent coup in Kiev”

David Blue on April 8, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Who was killed in that “violent coup?”

Walter L. Newton on April 8, 2014 at 11:35 AM

The junta controlling Ukraine for now is virulently anti-Russian, including ethnic Russian Ukrainians. That’s why Russians in Crimea, whose democratic rights had been negated by the violent coup in Kiev, voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia.

Of course Russia is hostile to the junta, but that anti-democratic government could never assure civil peace anyway, because it is rule by corrupt oligarchs and also at war with half the country.

David Blue on April 8, 2014 at 11:33 AM

That’s like saying that Mexicans have the right to take over government building in Texas because the are is anti-illegal immigrant i.e., anti-Tex Mexicans, and that if the United States or Texas tries to take back their government buildings then it is an act of war to Mexico.

melle1228 on April 8, 2014 at 11:40 AM

David Blue on April 8, 2014 at 11:33 AM

David, David, David… I have an idea. Many of the Russian conscripts that are currently stationed on the border of Eastern Ukraine are actually due to be released, but they are not being released because of the non-war-stance-just-having-a-good-time-with-some-scheduled-exercises.

You would be a perfect volunteer to take one of those conscripts places. Get on it David and then you can report back to Hot Air and let us know what’s really going on.

If they will give you access to the internet, or to western media, or even let you speak freely.

Let me know if that works for ya!!!

Walter L. Newton on April 8, 2014 at 11:43 AM

That’s like saying that Mexicans have the right to take over government building in Texas because the are is anti-illegal immigrant i.e., anti-Tex Mexicans, and that if the United States or Texas tries to take back their government buildings then it is an act of war to Mexico.

melle1228 on April 8, 2014 at 11:40 AM

David is a resident communist troll. You’d be best just to play with him and bat him around because he rarely has a coherent answer for anyone to his preposterous statements.

Walter L. Newton on April 8, 2014 at 11:44 AM

Who was killed in that “violent coup?”

Walter L. Newton on April 8, 2014 at 11:35 AM

You very close to the “annoying” line with your use of inconvenient facts. Watch your step, bub.

platypus on April 8, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Russia’s Ace in the Hole: a Super-Missile It Can Sell to Iran

It’s Washington’s nightmare scenario: an aggressive Moscow deciding it’s time to arm Tehran with sophisticated weapons. And it may be closer to reality than you think.

Resist We Much on April 8, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Iran already has a thriving missile program, alongside with their little friends from North Korea and to a lesser extent from the Chinese.

Right now, Iran has single warhead advance tech that for their IRBM fleet (high tech Scud D and it’s derivatives), but unless they buy them outright from the NorKs, we still have a small window to keep them from advancing to a high-level ICBM tech that can reliably reach the U.S. coast or Hawaii.

I worry more about the North Korean military finally getting to a multistage ICBM AND having the basic nuclear tech to make them a serious threat to the homeland…and they’re a lot closer to it that the Iran is.

BlaxPac on April 8, 2014 at 11:51 AM

I think Putin is riding high on a wave of power. I believe that war is coming in that part of the world faster than any of us think.

melle1228 on April 8, 2014 at 11:27 AM

I fear you and Angela Merkle are right about Putin, but I still think he will respect the number of Poland’s tanks. He doesn’t a war with a country capable of fighting back.

thuja on April 8, 2014 at 12:11 PM

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s state security service on Tuesday said that pro-Russian separatists have placed explosives in a building they seized in the eastern city of Luhansk and are using weapons to hold around 60 people against their will.

agmartin on April 8, 2014 at 12:29 PM

They don’t sound like pro-Russian separatists to me. I bet it’s actual members of the Russian military.

thuja on April 8, 2014 at 12:35 PM

I fear you and Angela Merkle are right about Putin, but I still think he will respect the number of Poland’s tanks. He doesn’t a war with a country capable of fighting back. – thuja on April 8, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Thuja, believe me, Ukraine is going to fight back. It might end up being a civil war, but they are going to fight. And, civil wars are the worst kind of wars.

SC.Charlie on April 8, 2014 at 12:39 PM

A clever tactic for the Ukraine government would be to cut off all utilities to the building controlled by Russians and see if they can disrupt cell phone service also. The protesters will give up in three or four days.

thuja on April 8, 2014 at 11:01 AM

…oh yes!…that will work…why don’t you call John Kerry…he’ll like that!

KOOLAID2 on April 8, 2014 at 12:42 PM

When are Ukrainians going to start infiltrating into Russia to do a bit of damage?

The problem is Putin.
Remove the problem.

albill on April 8, 2014 at 12:46 PM

Putin is just like Hitler. He isn’t going to stop UNTIL HE IS STOPPED.

He doesn’t respect words or pieces of paper. He respects tanks and troops with rifles.

ConstantineXI on April 8, 2014 at 1:00 PM

Putin is just like Hitler. He isn’t going to stop UNTIL HE IS STOPPED.

He doesn’t respect words or pieces of paper. He respects tanks and troops with rifles.

ConstantineXI on April 8, 2014 at 1:00 PM

Stop drinking Jesus juice so early in the day.

Russians have a higher GDP and quality of life than Ukrainians. They apparently want to join Russia. So what?

The US just wants to be involved in every world issue, because it is how we keep our potemkin economy afloat. It also is deathly afraid of looking impotent.

antisense on April 8, 2014 at 2:46 PM

1) We don’t have a legal obligation to defend Ukraine from Russian attack.

2) We do have a national interest in preventing the conquest of Ukraine by Russia, specifically because of the overt threats to other former parts of the Soviet bloc, many of which we do have a specific treaty obligation to defend under NATO.

3) There are steps we could take to make clear that the conquest of the rest of Ukraine would have costs that Russians would not like, and that we will defend our NATO allies.

4) Preemptive declarations that we will do nothing, pin-prick claims of sanctions [after giving plenty of warning so that the Russians could move their assets out of the way before they took effect], and sending Kerry to grovel to Putin run counter to that national interest.

5) Those American allies around the world who we convinced to depend on the American nuclear and defense umbrella instead of building up their own nuclear deterrent are now rightly, actively re-thinking that decision. Which is going to make the world a lot more dangerous and complex for us.

6) Walter L. Newton on April 8, 2014 at 11:25 AM said

The most that the Ukrainians can do is wait until the Russians finally swarm over the eastern boarder and then sacrifice themselves in a few days worth of battles.

I respectfully disagree. But the defense would be a literal nuclear deterrent and would involve Mutual Assured Destruction. Keep in mind that Ukrainians have people who have the Holodomor [the deliberate genocide of millions of Ukrainians by the Russians] in living memory. They know what awaits them if the Russians win.

Even after deactivating the entire Cherynobyl complex years ago, there are 15 nuclear reactors of Soviet design operating in the Ukraine. The 6 at the Zaporozhia [sp?] complex furnish the electrical power for the conquered Crimea and other Russian ethnic areas.

It took everything that they had for the Soviets to bring Chernobyl under control, and thousands of square miles were irradiated. The Russians have no capability today to stop one Chernobyl, let alone 15. Yes, the Ukraine would be destroyed. But so would a lot of surrounding territory, including Russian territory.

The Ukrainians have the same option to deter attack that the United States does, and has, since the beginning of the nuclear age. The US used bombers and missiles to threaten unacceptable retaliation against the Russians. The Ukraine has the power to do the same, except that they can use the threat to use explosive charges to breach the reactor containment and set fire to the graphite within. On 15 reactors, not one. And even if the Russians attempt to seize the reactors by coup d’ main; all it would really take is one or two to render the invasion pointless, fatally irradiate the invading troops, and eventually a lot of Russian territory. And the Russians could do nothing to stop it.

If the Ukrainian government is determined to resist, that message needs to be transmitted to Russia and the world, and preparations made.

Subotai Bahadur

Subotai Bahadur on April 8, 2014 at 3:00 PM