Definitely Russian rulers consider eastern Ukraine as something they somehow own. Speaking about a possible military operation against the pro-russian protesters and militias in Ukraine, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said literally:
“If we are attacked, we would certainly respond. If our interests, our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia for example, I do not see any other way but to respond in accordance with international law.”
So an attack against the armed men who are occupying the official buildings in at least 10 cities in Ukraine is considered by the Kremlin as an attack against its interests. Against Russia itself. That “we” Lavrov said is very significative, and the reference to South Ossetia very threatening.
“Russian citizens being attacked is an attack against the Russian Federation,” he told, despite these are pro Russian citizens living outside the borders of the Russian Federation. But maybe he believes in the theory that say that wherever there is a Russian living, that’s Russia.
The fall of the Soviet Union left Russians minorities in several countries now independents. In the case of Ukraine it seems that Russia only will respect the sovereignty of the country if it remains under its area of influence. If not, they will retain their “interests” by force, according to Lavrov’s words.
The Ukrainian military had proved earlier this month they were not determined to fight against the rebels. Lets see what will happen with the new order to launch an “antiterrorist” operation after the apparent torture and killing of two pro Kiev politicians in Slaviansk. Now the military know they have in front not only the rebels but the threat of the mighty Russian troops: a powerful deterrent.
By the way, the big international agreement on Ukraine reached recently was a useless paper. Nobody did what was signed. The official buildings are occupied the rebels still armed and the situation has deteriorated.