From The Wall Street Journal:
Pro-Russia Protesters Seize State Buildings in Eastern Ukraine
Demonstrators Storm Regional Government Headquarters in Donetsk and Kharkiv
By James Marson | April 6, 2014 4:41 p.m. ET
KIEV, Ukraine— Anti-government protesters calling for closer ties with Moscow seized regional government headquarters in two cities in Ukraine’s east Sunday in the most serious unrest there in the past month.
Around 200 pro-Russian demonstrators broke into the government building in the industrial city of Donetsk, raising a Russian flag and demanding the local council call a referendum on the industrial region joining Russia. Protesters also seized the regional government building in the eastern city of Kharkiv.
The unrest comes amid a Russian warning, repeated several times in March, that it is prepared to intervene to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine’s east and south from alleged threats of attack by Ukrainian nationalists. Russia says the government in Kiev, swept to power by protests that ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych, a Russian ally, is illegitimate. Moscow last month invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and has massed tens of thousands of troops on its western border with Ukraine, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials.
Pro-Russian protests that flared in Ukraine’s eastern cities after Mr. Yanukovych’s ouster late February had appeared to be fading. While the crowds of several hundred demonstrators in Donetsk were no larger than at other protests in recent weeks, Sunday marked the first time in nearly a month that government buildings had been seized in the eastern region of the country.
Russia’s invasion of Crimea came after a group of armed men seized the local parliament building there and appealed for Russian help. As in Crimea, a majority of people in the east speak Russian, but surveys show less than half want their region to join Russia.
As usual, there’s more at the original.
As we have noted previously, Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and though it was under consideration for such, Ukraine dropped its application when the now-deposed pro-Russian President, Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych, came to power. As we said then, with Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin’s move to seize the Crimea after President Yanukovych was deposed, there are 28 NATO Presidents and Prime Ministers and Kings and Queens who are very glad that Ukraine opted out of the membership process.
We have seen this before. In a move every bit as authentic and spontaneous as the Gleiwitz incident, pro-Russian Ukrainians and ethnic Russians in Crimea rebelled against the Ukrainian government in Kiev, following President Yanukovych’s removal, and it wasn’t long before Russia seized the Crimea. Now, Russia has some 40,000 troops massed on Ukraine’s eastern border, and Gen. Philip Breedlove, USAF, NATO’s supreme allied commander Europe, has said that Russia is in a position to invade the Ukraine on just twelve hours notice. Given the United States and Europe’s strong, strong! response to the seizure of the Crimea, the possibility exists that President Putin might not believe that seizing the eastern portion of Ukraine holds much risk for him.
It’s like a play in football that works; until the defense manages to stop it, the offense will keep using the play.
Russia nearly doubled natural gas prices for Ukraine, which Ukraine promptly rejected, but all Russia has to do is say, OK, fine, you don’t want to pay the higher prices, then we won’t send you any gas. Ukraine threatened to take Russia to court, but that threat is meaningless; there is no court with any enforcement powers which could compel Russia to behave differently. Given that 40% of the natural gas Russia sells to the rest of Europe travels through pipelines going through Ukraine, the other European nations will pressure Ukraine to surrender; the rest of Europe won’t tolerate seeing factories shut down and homes go cold just to stand by Ukraine.
In the end, Vladimir Putin will win again, because there isn’t anyone willing to stand up to him.