Russia’s sinister plot to get the whole Soviet gang back together is unfolding very quickly. After pro-Russian protesters took control of government buildings on Sunday, they declared the Ukrainian city of Donetsk a “people’s republic”.
Over the weekend pro-Russian groups in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine occupied a number of government buildings, protesting against the new, less Russian interim government in Kiev. Things went one step further in Donetsk when protesters proclaimed independence called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine by May 11.
Ukrainian officials were not too pleased at the rapid deterioration of their country. In response to the unrest, Ukrainian leaders, including the interior minister Arsen Avakov, accused Moscow and ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych of inciting “separatist disorder.”
“Putin and Yanukovych ordered and paid for the latest wave of separatist disorder in the east of the country. The people who have gathered are not many but they are very aggressive,” Avakov wrote on Facebook.
Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov also condemned the seizure, calling the unrest an attempt by Russia to “dismember” Ukraine.
Following the government building seizures, Ukraine sent in a bunch of security officials to Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv to try and calm things down, but it didn’t stop the protesters from proclaiming the Donetsk region independent and demanding a secession referedum. Pro-Russia activists are even asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to send “peacekeeping troops” to the region.
“Without your support, without the support of Russia, it will be hard for us to resist the Kyiv junta on our own,” one activist said.
Russian troops remain within 30km of the border and NATO says up to 40,000 Russian soldiers have mobilized and present a distinct threat to Ukraine – so maybe the pro-Russian activists will get lucky.
However, according to Moscow, Putin has no intention of invading. But… he does reserve the right to protect the rights of ethnic Russians, which pretty much leaves the door open for an invasion at any time.