As it was predictable protesters in some eastern Ukrainian cities have seized official buildings and demanded the celebration of referendums to join Russia just as Crimea did.
That happened on Sunday night in Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk. In Luhansk the protesters, who stormed the security services building, have seized its arsenal of weapons and are defending their positions. The police closed all the entrances to the city. the situation is highly dangerous.
In Donetsk pro-Moscow protesters occupying a regional administration building declared the creation of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” as an independent state. An unidentified man said to the crowd that “In the event of aggressive action from the illegitimate Kiev authorities, we will appeal to the Russian Federation to bring in a peacekeeping contingent.”
The Government in Kiev has a big problem now in Luhansk, Donetsk and other cities. If they want to restore the order with the protesters armed, it will be almost impossible to avoid violence as they promised. If they continue with their tactic to wait and see what happen to avoid confrontation, as they did with Crimea, they will show they have no control of that part of the country and the situation will worsen. The separatism will be encouraged. The authority in Kiev will show more and more frail.
It remains to see if Kiev will have the backing of the western countries to keep up its borders if there is a burst of violence in the eastern regions with the authorities trying to retake the control.
Another referendum would be an added problem. If the Crimean vote had the immediate effect it had, why not the next one?. And a call for a Russian intervention by the pro Russian demonstrators would be a biggest problem. How will Russia react? Going deeper into the Ukrainian territory to “defend” the Russian speaking population as Putin said he was ready to do? Creating new laws to annex new territories?
This situation is quickly deteriorating, sliding dangerously to a secession, with the country divided between east and west. Kiev have now to ponder if it has the means and the will to neutralise the separatism or to implement an alternative plan to include all Ukrainians within its recognised borders despite their differences. Right know there are no signs of a will for a dialogue in the groups that are organising the seizure of public buildings, declaring their independence from Kiev and calling to Moscow for protection. So hopes are fading for the stabilisation of the country.
Kiev knows that its forces are not match to the mighty Russian military. They will need help if the Russians move on again with their politic of fait accompli as they did in Crimea. But until now the help has been only diplomatic. Good words but nothing effective to solve problem of the integrity of their borders, already modified from the fact. All depends now of what Russia is ready to do in Ukraine.
But with or without a further Russian intervention the crisis is served and there is not a clear solution. The Crimean referendum and its annexation to Russia has exacerbated the separatism in the East of Ukraine.
Russia is pressing to the international community to transform Ukraine in a Federation, but Kiev thinks this is a plan to break up the Country between the pro Russian regions that would end under Moscow “protection”, and the western regions, the only ones that would remain under Kiev’s full control.