*Short Update This Evening. More Coming Tomorrow.*
It did not take the Pro-Russian separatist leaders very long to make clear their intentions following Sunday’s referendum. A large majority of voters in the eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk allegedly voted in favor of secession, and breaking away from Kiev. Now, less than 24 hours later, the self-declared leader of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic,’ Denis Pushilin made clear his intention to request that Russia absorb the newly minted ‘people’s republic.’ A similar vote was put to residents in Luhansk. The results are not yet known.
Kiev and the EU have dismissed Sunday’s vote, and with cause. Legally, the referendum does not have a leg to stand on. Donetsk is a part of the Ukraine, which is, in turn, a sovereign nation-state. True, the same can be said about the Crimea, but this stage of the crisis is not about legality; it is about politics. And on that front, Putin continues to hold the initiative.
Pushilin’s request will be nearly impossible for Putin to deny right now. He’s built a soap box from declaring that Russia will defend the rights of it’s citizens at home and abroad. Turning away from that position now would weaken his domestic support considerably. But let’s be realistic here.
Putin is not going to deny Pushilin’s request. In the next few days the pieces will continue falling into place as the other regions in eastern Ukraine post similar referendum results and place identical requests through to Moscow. Shortly after that, don’t be surprised to see Russian forces cross the former border and secure it’s newly annexed territory.
The End Game has finally arrived and it is becoming increasingly apparent that a partition of the Ukraine is coming in the not too distant future.