More Protests and Takeovers of Government Buildings

Over the weekend, the situation in the Eastern Ukraine continued to become more tense, with armed men taking over government buildings in numerous cities. The list of cities flying the flag of the 'Independent Republic of Donetsk' became longer several times in the course of the past two days. The police chief of Donetsk resigned, telling protesters that “In accordance with your demands I am stepping down."

Ukrainian interim president Alexander Turchynov announced that he would send in special forces to retake the buildings, and there has been fighting reported on at least one occasion. Russian foreign minister Lavrov meanwhile has issued a stern warning to the Ukrainian government not to shoot at anyone.

The coordination of the takeover of government buildings and the apparently well-trained gunmen involved in several (but by no means all) of these takeovers seems to suggest Russian special forces had a hand in them. It is certainly in Russia's interest to put pressure on the Ukrainian government, as inter alia evidenced by the sudden insistence on actually getting paid for Gazprom's deliveries for a change, and the announcement that henceforth a market price is going to be charged for natural gas.

On the other hand, the insistence by Western spokesmen such as US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power that there is 'nothing grass-roots seeming' about what is happening is clearly contradicted by the evidence. The demands of the 'pro-Russian' parts of the population are also widely mischaracterized. Apparently most people want more autonomy, but not a Crimea-type incorporation into Russia. The protests against the Kiev government appear to be quite real. Here is for instance a video of a demonstration in Kharkiv yesterday. Surely all these people haven't been bused in from Moscow.


Protesters in Kharkiv over the weekend. They are inter alia demanding the resignation of interior minister Arseny Avakov as well as a referendum on the status of the region.


The upshot is that there continues to be a danger of things getting out of hand.

John Matlock, the US ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991, has published an editorial in the Washington Post that is a must read. Matlock recounts how there was a far more conciliatory tone and a far closer relationship between the former Soviet Union and the US at the time when he was ambassador in Moscow than there is between the US and Russia today, and attempts to explain what has happened.


Putin's Army Still Hiding – Not Even CNN Can Find It

While it certainly appears possible that Russian special forces are lending a helping hand to the separatist movements in the Eastern Ukraine, we can continue to be quite sure that NATO is telling tall tales about the alleged 'massing of Russian troops' at the border with the Ukraine. Shortly after we noted that a UK journalist was unable to find Putin's army anywhere near the border, NATO published satellite pictures that seemed to prove the opposite, such as this one:



One of the satellite pictures published by NATO – click to enlarge.


The Russians averred that while these pictures were quite real, they were also outdated, showing the situation at the time drills were taking place last August. It seems they were telling the truth. CNN has sent a team of reporters to the areas where NATO asserted the troops are stationed, and couldn't find them either. Actually, the reporters did manage to spot one armored carrier, so perhaps  Vlad the invader is hoping the Ukraine will surrender to that one scary looking vehicle.


Video of CNN reporters vainly searching for Russian troops at the locations in the NATO satellite pictures


This mainly confirms that one cannot trust everything that is being said by Western officials about what is happening in the region, just as one cannot trust everything the Russian government or the government in Kiev is saying.




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