April 15, 2014: A Scary Day in Ukraine

In my prior post I had some fun with the Ukraine turmoil as it was the only way I could get myself to tackle that unfortunate mess at all.   However, today is a particularly scary day there, as the possibility of a break out of civil war seems real depending upon how events unfold.    One problem is the picture is both murky and volatile, tough to gauge even with frequent reports from news people in the area.

Location of Donetsk (red) and Donetsk Oblast (...

Location of Donetsk (red) and Donetsk Oblast (pink) on the map of Ukraine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The gist of the situation is that pro-Russian, separatist actions have been taking place in the eastern Ukraine regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in recent days, with various government buildings becoming occupied by apparently well trained uniformed forces without insignia’s similar to those that acted in Crimea.

The general opinion outside of Russia is that Russia is instigating these actions.   Of course, Russia denies that while Russian TV shows a steady stream of programming blaming the “Nazi led” central government in Kiev for instigating the problems through its actions and lies.

The Kiev government has been warning that if the “protestors” don’t give up the buildings, they will use force to remove them, what appeared an empty threat until today when some Ukrainian troops have moved into the region.   While Ukraine’s military numbers only a few thousand and are not well armed, they may have more support in those regions than is obvious, as it is an open question as to what the people living there want, even though Russian ethnics make up nearly 40% of their populations.  One thing many may well want is more attention than they have been receiving from the weak central government in Kiev.

The wild card of note is the force of 40,000 Russian troops camped out just across the border from Luhansk and Donetsk and Putin’s repeated threat to intervene if ethnic Russians are endangered.   How might that play out?

Of course, there are various diplomatic moves afoot and Putin and Obama talked on the phone yesterday, but nothing seems settled in any way.

An indication of the seriousness of the situation can be found in a late addition to this morning’s Washington Post on line, an editorial by James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq in the Obama administration and U.S. ambassador to Kuwait from 1996 to 1999.   He makes a case for the U. S. sending ground troops to Ukraine.   Not enough to challenge Russia, but to show that we will not take another incursion into that country lightly.

Also, for those who want to either delve further into this issue or just to keep apprised of unfolding events, check out this Wall Street Journal site.   It offers much information and even if it’s too much, you might at least want to scroll down to see a map of those regions indicating where government buildings have been taken over.

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