You get an incredibly intense montage of the fighting on the Maidan telling you never to stop, never to quit. Video by Ukraine, words by Rocky. It couldn’t be more timely given the ongoing changes in Ukraine because it looks like this could be a long fight (title video at bottom).
Yesterday, pro-Russian Ukrainians armed with guns hoisted the Russian flag over some Eastern Ukrainian (Crimean) government buildings yesterday and the Russian military remains on high alert there in what appears to be an effort to intimidate Ukraine while promising to protect Russia leaning Ukrainians.
Initially, the Interior Minister had accused the Russian military of being responsible but it now appears that those occupying the Crimean airport are more of a militia. This is highly plausible given the very high pro-Russia sentiment there.
In the meantime tension rises in Crimea pro-russian region where militiamen have blocked the region’s airports and main roads. Moscow has refused this afternoon to hold talks with Kyiv’s new leadership about the situation of the region that decided Thursday to hold a referendum on autonomy the 25th of May.
In other words, they may vote to secede from Ukraine.
Especially yesterday, there was a very, very real anxiety that Russia would militarily “encourage” Eastern Ukraine to secede from Ukraine proper in the name of protecting the ethnic Russians there. That fear has subsided somewhat given Russia’s announcement today that they will not violate Ukraine’s sovereignty aka invade.
Fugitive former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, speaking to a mostly compliant press at a conference in Rostov, Russia, has denied issuing the order to fire on Maidan protesters in Kyiv, and insists the new government is illegitimate.
Over an hour into the press conference Yanukovych had yet to face a difficult question, and had not chosen to rebut accusations of corruption, or sought to claim documents recovered from his home including an “elimination” list of journalists were forgeries.
However he did insist he was still the legal president of Ukraine, and blamed his ousting on “fascists and neo.nazis”. He put the blame for the bloodshed and what he called “chaos, lawlessness and anarchy” squarely on the shoulders of the “radicals” leading the Maidan protests.
I’ve tried not to opine too much during all this but personally, that mix of assurances from Russian and Yanukovych insisted he’s still the President does make me wonder if Russia considers Yanukovych to be the ultimate arbiter of Ukraine’s sovereignty.