Friday, January 24, 2014

The East is Red. The West is Orange

Russia's attempts to compel the Ukrainian government to move into the Russian orbit are facing speed bumps from Ukrainians. Will Russia settle for absorbing the east alone?

After being treated as insurgents with new laws designed to make any protests illegal, Ukrainians are escalating their opposition in tactics and geography:

Protesters on Friday seized a government building in the Ukrainian capital while also maintaining their siege of several governors' offices in the country's west, raising the pressure on the government. ...

In Lviv, near the Polish border, some 450 kilometers (280 miles) west of Kiev, hundreds of activists burst into the office of the regional governor, Oleh Salo, a Yanukovych appointee, shouting "Revolution!" They forced a local governor to sign a resignation letter and remained in the building, refusing to let the workers in.

Protesters also have retained control of offices in four other western cities seized Thursday, though they suffered a setback in Cherkasy, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of Kiev, where police barricaded the governor's building from inside and prevented them from taking control. Police reinforcements arrived later, dispersing the protesters and arresting several dozen of them.

If Ukrainian resistance makes it impossible for Russia to stealthily reconquer Ukraine in all but name (for now), would Russia settle for absorbing the more Russified regions of the east and Crimea?

Would ethnic Russians call for intervention by Russia to protect them? Or would Russian agents simply pretend to speak for these people to have a pretext to "rescue" them?

You might think that the Russian winter olympics would be a calm time during which nothing much would happen. But you'd have to forget that Russia invaded Georgia while Putin sat watching the 2008 summer olympics in China.