Yesterday, Arsen Avakov, the acting Interior Minister for the Ukrainian government stated that the unrest in the eastern region of the country will be settled within the next 48 hours. Either by negotiations or the use of force.
Avakov is a high level government official. High enough to suggest that there is real determination behind this statement. Earlier in the week other members of the government, including acting President Oleksandr Turchynov suggested that the protesters could be subject to ‘anti-terrorist measures.’ The acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk also made similar remarks. So, it is safe to assume that the Ukrainian government is serious about confronting the pro-Russian protesters.
The question is: Will the government’s ultimatum backfire? The ‘spontaneous’ outburst of protests and violence in the eastern part of the country has the look and feel of what took place last month in Crimea. In all likelihood, Moscow is probably orchestrating the events in Donetsk much the way it did events in Crimea. If that’s the case, using force against the protesters could give Russia justification to intervene.
Russia will not…cannot, really…..send forces into the eastern Ukraine without a valid casus belli. One that will guarantee continued domestic support for the government’s actions. An intervention with the purpose of ‘safeguarding ethnic Russians who profess a desire to return to the Motherland’ worked well with the intervention in Crimea. There is little reason to doubt it would be less effective with regards to the eastern Ukraine.
I will discuss this more in the evening update.